I remember my college days fondly. Chapel Hill, NC was a beautiful place to live–large, green quads shaded by towering trees, a picturesque Old Well and challenges galore for my intellect. It was a great time of life.
Your college of choice may have been different, but I’m guessing your college experience was probably similar to mine in one sense. It was a time when I left my little, cocooned world at home and was shocked by how right was called wrong and wrong was called right.
When I was researching the Church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29, I came across this quote from IVP Commentary, “For some people today tolerance is the only real virtue and intolerance the only vice.” It brought memories flooding back of battles with professors and debates with friends.
That was almost 30 years ago (YIKES!), but it also made me realize how I feel this way almost every day in my life 3 decades past college. Because I’m a Christian who believes every word of scripture is true, I’m considered intolerant…aberrant…different…even unacceptable. My culture considers many of my views intolerant, and increasingly I’m considered intolerable.
You may feel the same. When you watch the news. When you discuss life with co-workers. When you talk with moms at the park.
But I think most of us don’t expect to feel that way at church. Right?
Unfortunately, just like the Church at Thyatira, unbiblical ideas, theologies and acts have seeped into the church today, so the words of Jesus to the church centuries ago still hold true for us in 2014:
“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. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 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. I will strike her children dead. 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.
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, except to hold on to what you have until I come.'” (Rev. 2: 20-24)
I know this type of “hell-fire-and-brimstone” isn’t popular today, but there it is. Plain as day in scripture. Along with a description of Jesus with “eyes like blazing fire” and “feet like burnished bronze” indicating judgment.
We may squirm and be uncomfortable with this (it’s definitely not my favorite blog post to write), but the truth is Jesus is intolerant. He is intolerant of any sin that separates us from our perfect Father. And if Jesus is intolerant of sin, then His people should be intolerant of what He defines as sin too.
Here’s the softer, gentler news…Jesus’ intolerance of sin is for our good. He loves us beyond measure and knows it’s impossible for us to live sinfully and walk closely with God longs for relationship with us. When we give up sin, the trade is for something sweeter than can be imagined.
And though this letter to the church calls us to stand against sin outside ourselves and in the church, our first call is to personal purity gained only by turning away from our own sin and toward Jesus in faith. Only then, filled with love of God and the truth of scripture, can we stand rightly in intolerance against the sin around us.
Note: Congratulations to Kathy who posted at 10:04 3/6! She is the winner of Living So That, Wendy Blight’s new Bible study.