Jesus truth claims contrast pretty quickly with a city that is desperate to tolerate everything. (We see a building conflict between Christ’s truth and Thyatira’s tolerance). You see the Roman empire was pretty welcoming, offering rights that were unheard of in the 1st century and still sometimes in the 21st century, they allowed a diversity of worship, until any form of worship claimed to be the only way. We see the darker side of tolerance still today, when a college that is all about academic freedom fires a professor who follows Christ, or Catholic Charities having to choose between finding homes for adopted babies and their Christian faith.
Troublesome Tolerance (Revelation 2:20-25) 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Jesus references Jezebel, queen of Israel—who supported and shepherded the prophets of Baal and Asherah, but despised the Yahweh. –Everyway as long as there isn’t just one way! 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. (Her children are most likely a reference to her spiritual disciples)—Jesus lays out the imagery of Mt. Carmel again—where conflict between gods brings clarity. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
Instead of all roads leading to heaven, pluralism, Jesus makes a claim that all people will be judged by a universal standard, for spiritual purity. Instead of all roads leading to heaven, only one God has brought heaven down to earth. Jesus had the audacity to make claims about himself that drive people crazy today—“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me!” God in the OT had the gall to call the Israelites to “Worship no other gods.” Now some may argue that is arrogant, but what if it is true? Wouldn’t it be compassionate to give each person an avenue to truth?
Think about it like a prescription—some of you take prescriptions for serious matters, maybe a heart medication, or medication for high blood pressure. Without the pill you could die. You wouldn’t settle for just taking any pill as long as it looked the same, you wouldn’t gamble if one in every 20 pills was a sugar pill or placebo, the greater the ramifications the greater need for purity. When it is a matter of life and death, truth matters!A few years ago one of the biggest stories to hit the airways and news was about Farid Fata, a nationally recognized oncologist was arrested for putting 553 patients through treatments they didn’t need, 9,000 infusions that were unnecessary, milking the insurance companies for millions, telling them they had cancer when they didn’t, doing surgeries, providing radiation and chemotherapy. Universally, people agree that his actions were horrific, greedy, and hard to actually fathom, but wouldn’t it be just as horrific to tell someone with a disease that everything is fine, when it isn’t. Although we don’t like it hear it, the truth is that we have a sin problem, each one of us has been infected with a disease that continues to plague our relationships, our priorities, our perceptions, and it is terminal.
Jesus calls us to embrace a new type of tolerance that pushes us to walk alongside people who are broken, who are hungry, thirsty, who are left ravaged by the sinful world, but he isn’t willing to tolerate that which puts humanity through unnecessary treatments. Instead of getting mad that our sickness of sin has only one solution, we can thank god that there is a solution. Instead of using us for his benefit, Jesus allowed himself to take on our disease as the means of becoming our cure. Jesus took on the curse of the cross as the means of becoming our cross over towards new life.