We live in a culture where compromise is rampant. Tolerance. Coexistence. Even among those who would call themselves believers. With all that is swirling around us, bombarding us, it is difficult to be faithful to Christ, to His Word, and to His Truth. So many days I ask the question “Is it worth it?” Is all this endurance, and pain, and faith worth it? It absolutely is. It’s worth it because this is not where our story ends. Today’s sermon at church reminded me of that.
I woke up this morning just exhausted. I was tired from a good, but taxing week. A week of crazy dreams, a week of battling my flesh and enduring the cravings, a week of faithfully seeking after Jesus. It has been good, but exhausting.
I really didn’t want to get up to go to church because I was spent. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically. Just utterly spent. It would have been easier to stay in my bed. It would have been easier to just say I can’t do this anymore. It would have been just easier to give in to what my flesh was desiring. But I didn’t. I got up, and wearily went to church.
As I drove to church this morning, I remember my thought and prayers being “Lord help me believe that all of this is worth it. Help me to believe that this suffering and struggle has purpose, and that one day things will get better.” The Lord was already ahead of me this morning as His Word hit me right where I was at.
On Sundays, our church has been doing a Sermon Series entitled More than Conquerors. We’ve been looking at Jesus’s letter to the churches in Revelation. Today we were in Revelation 2:18-29, and looking at Jesus’s letter to the Church of Thyatira.
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate 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. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:18-23).
In each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus not only speaks words of affirmation, but he also calls for them to repent and turn from various things. Here in Thyatira is no different. He recognizes their works, their love and faith, and their patient endurance. But He has this one thing against them. That they have compromised. They have compromised in that they are both trying to please the world and Jesus. There is a woman in their congregation who is leading them astray. Jesus likens her to Jezebel from the Old Testament. She is proclaiming that God has said that it’s okay to take part in the rituals and festivals of the days, sexual immorality, and there are those in the church who have compromised. Jesus is calling the true followers of Jesus to repent of these practices, and to turn back to Him wholeheartedly. The warning is that those who do not repent, and turn back, will be judged through a great tribulation. Jesus though in love calls them to return to Him and to stop compromising.
It is easy within our cultural, multi-faceted, diverse context, to understand the plight of the Church of Thyatira. Within this culture, these festivals affected their livelihood. Their jobs. And by not attending the festivals, they would face persecution, possibly even death. Unlike the Thyatiran’s, we are not subjected to death because of our differences in beliefs with the world, but we are faced with ridicule.
When we take stands on the issues of this day, we will be seen differently. Our reputations may be affected. We may be passed over for promotions. We may be seen as bigots and haters just because we have different beliefs. And that’s tough. It’s tough to be different. To be outcasts. But it won’t always be this way. Here was the main encouragement, I got from today, in my own fight to not compromise and give in.
“But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Here Jesus encourages those who have not compromised. He tells them to hold fast to what you have until I come. Hold fast to me He says. He says that the one who does will truly win in the end. That the script will be flipped. That the outcasts, and the hurting, the cast offs, and the broken, will be brought near, that they will be given authority over the nations. There will be no more crying. Or hurting. Or disappointments. Or being looked at funny. We will be at perfect peace. Most importantly, Jesus says that I will give to him who conquers and endures to the end, the morning star. Himself. Jesus is referencing the Old Testament writings that talked about the morning star coming, and then in the Gospels where Jesus is referred to as the morning star.
Wow. What an incredible encouragement. That there is hope for us who hold fast to Jesus. It may not seem like it in this moment, in this time of exhaustion, and fighting off our flesh, and not compromising, but it will be worth it in the end. In the end, we win. In the end, we get peace. In the end, we get comfort. In the end, we get it all. So hold fast.
Hold fast when you can’t hold on any longer. Hold fast when you are exhausted and tired of fighting. Hold fast when the world throws you out, and when you are discouraged and depressed. Hold fast to Jesus, for a time is coming, when our holding fast will pay off. Hold fast.
I don’t know where you’re at today. Maybe you came into the day like me. Discouraged, tired, wondering if it all is worth it. Know that it is. Know that Jesus is with you in the fight, in the doubts, anxieties, hurts, disappointments, and when the world pushes us away. Know that He knows where you’re at, and He’s just saying to you and me, hold on child. Hold on with all you have, to my word, to my truth, to my goodness, my love, for I’ve got you. We will make it to the end. For we are more than conquerors through Him who have saved us and is continually saving us every day.