Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday in Advent 2: The church that loved too much

Opening Sentence
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Collect of the Day
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 31

Lessons: Haggai 1, Revelation 2:18-29, Matthew 23:27-39

Any similarity between the church in Thyatira and present-day churches which overlook blatant heresy in the name of "love" is hardly coincidental. The church in Thyatira was the opposite extreme of the church in Ephesus. Whereas Ephesus was commended for its commitment to truth and rebuked for its lack of love, Thyatira is commended for its "love and faith and service and patient endurance" but rebuked for tolerating "that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols."

Thyatira was the church that loved too much. Its leaders were apparently too weak to resist the manipulations of "Jezebel," a particularly odious woman whose name is a reference back to the wicked queen who, along with her husband King Ahab, instituted Baal worship in Israel at the time of Elijah. Calling herself a "prophetess," she was given free reign in Thyatira to lead people astray into what appears to have been an idolatrous cult which glorified sexual immorality. There was nothing remotely Christ-like in her teachings or in the Thyatiran church tolerating her under the guise of "love."

Just as truth divorced from love leads to legalism, love divorced from truth leads to licentiousness. Both will ultimately lead to death. For the church to thrive and be a faithful witness for Christ (and thus a threat to the fallen order called "Babylon" throughout Revelation), it must keep truth and love in proper balance. Only then will it create an environment of grace in which true and loving disciples can be consistently made and nurtured.

(JAG)

Glory in the Highest