Are you aware that the church in Thyatira’s big sin was……..tolerance? (Revelation 2:18-29) Tolerance “made being a Christian a lot easier, much less costly, must less counter-cultural,” writes pastor and best-selling author Kevin DeYoung. “But it was a compromised Christianity, and Jesus could not tolerate it.”
So why has the visible Church become so tolerant of the things the Lord Jesus said He hates?
De Young explains…
By Kevin DeYoung
Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and try to understand them, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation to every belief and behavior. Because God doesn’t. We must love what God loves. That’s where Ephesus failed. But we must also hate what God hates. That’s where Thyatira failed.
Of the seven cities in Revelation, Thyatira is the least well known, the least impressive, and the least important. And yet, the letter is the longest of the seven. There was a lot going on at this church–some bad, some good.
Let’s start with the good. Verse 19, “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance.” Ephesus was praised for its good deeds and strong work ethic. Thyatira is even better. Is has the deeds that Ephesus had and the love that Ephesus lacked. The church at Thyatira was not without genuine virtue. It was a tight-knit bunch who loved, served, believed, and endured.
Maybe Thyatira was the kind of church you walked into and immediately felt like you belonged: “Great to meet you. Come, let me introduce you to my friends. Here, I’ll show you how you can get plugged in, use your gifts, do ministry. We’re so glad you’re here.” It was a caring church, a sacrificial church, a loving church.
That was the good part. And the bad part? Its love could be undiscerning and blindly affirming. The big problem at Thyatira was tolerance. The folks at Thyatira tolerated false teaching and immoral behavior, two things God is fiercely intolerant of. Jesus says, “You’re loving in many ways, but your tolerance is not love. It’s unfaithfulness.”
The specific sin in Thyatira was the tolerance of Jezebel. That wasn’t the woman’s real name. But this false prophetess was acting like a Jezebel-leading people into adultery and idolatry. We don’t know if her influence was formal–she got up in front of people and told them these deceptive things–or if it was informal–taking place in conversations and by word of mouth. However it was happening, this woman in Thyatira was a spiritual danger, like her Old Testament namesake. Continue reading