I was driving to work a few weeks ago, and I have a problem, I tend to use the seek button too frequently. All the time, I stick with a station for a few seconds here or a few seconds there, just waiting to hear something that tickles my ear. I finally came across a classic hit—Rock the Boat—a few of the lines have stuck with me—Rock the Boat—Don’t Rock the Boat Baby, Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over! More than just a catchy song lyric, it really starts to define how many people live their lives, not wanting to offend, not wanting to cause waves. It reminded me of an old fable that has been passed down for generations that tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animals back and continued on his way. In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road. (Source Unknown)
Today, we are going to travel to the church of Thyatira that is wrestling with where to be tolerant and where to be truthful. We have been visiting a new church each week as we’ve work through our sermon series called Church Shopping, looking at the 7 letters to the 7 churches in Revelation. 7 remember is the number for perfection and completion meaning that Christ message isn’t only for the 1st century churches but for all churches. Our goal has been not only to be a church that is focused on people pleasing, but focused on pleasing God.
Unlike Pergamum, which was the Harvard of its day, a hub for intellectual answers, Thyatira was 35 miles southeast, a hub of hard work, where the ivory tower was figuratively built, where metallurgy and blue collar workers live. More like a Pittsburg, PA or Detroit, MI, where unions and guilds were more common than temples and monuments. Instead of being home to a 7 wonder of the world, it was seen as a roadblock in case of invasion—the garrison that lived in the small city wouldn’t protect Thyatira, but hold off an army in hopes of protecting Pergamum…Fly over country. A people’s whose worth seems to be judged on a double standard—Jesus reveals a…
Truth that applies even in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-19) 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Jesus starts his letter powerfully solidifying his nature—by using the term Son of God, the only time in Revelation, a reference to Psalm 2:7—You are my Son; today I have become your Father—a psalm speaking of the Messiah’s inheritance of all nations—a universal reign rather than a relative one, a transcendent truth rather than a temporary one. His appearance builds on this fact, eyes like blazing fire, feet like burnished bronze both references from Daniel—who was living in a land not his home, under Babylonian captivity, he received a vision where God was sitting in judgment of all nations and all people—all brought under one standard—It is with Jesus universal truth symbolized he starts his dialogue with the church leaders: 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. This life as Christians isn’t a sprint, but is a marathon, where we don’t just respond to truth once, but surrender daily to a truth that transcends throughout the whole world.
A little boy carried his new boat to the river. He placed it in the water and let out the string. All at once a strong current caught the boat. He tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke and the little boat raced downstream. The little boy searched for the boat until night fell and he went home with a heavy heart. A few days later he saw his boat in a store window. He spoke to the store manager: ”Sir, that’s my boat in your window! I made it!” “Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you’ll have to buy it for one dollar.” The boy used all of his savings and bought his boat back. As he left the store, he hugged his boat and said, “Now you’re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.” Jesus has two claims on the life of the Christian. First He made you, and then He bought you back. Source: The effective Invitation, Richard Alan StreettJesus doesn’t just want to settle for creating you–but not knowing you—he wants relationship with you. Why? He isn’t lonely or hungry for attention, but he knows that relationship with him is the only way you get to be you! I know sometimes we are hesitant to trust people who make big claims-thank you Al Gore for inventing the Internet. Jesus is different—He allowed his truth claim to be tested. He allowed himself to be put in the refiner’s fire—to check his purity. He did what no one else could do, in order to lead us to a place no one else had ever been before. (He allowed himself to be seen by over 500, we have the life change in his disciples, his enemies, his family, when only death waited).
Here is where I want you to be brave–Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If Jesus is who he says he is, how would your life need to change? How would what he said, impact how you live? That is a scary proposition as Author Flannery O’Connor remarked, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”