The Tolerance Jesus will not tolerate

Great article by Kevin DeYoung from The Gospel Coalition.


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.  It 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.

Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. She worshiped Baal and Asherah and led her husband, Ahab, in the same. Jezebel is the one who plotted to kill innocent Naboth for his vineyard. She was called “that cursed woman” (2 Kings 9:34). As a punishment for her wickedness, she was eventually pushed out a window, trampled by horses, and eaten up by dogs. She was a bad lady. And she lead many Israelites down a bad path.

Jesus says to Thyatira, “You are allowing a woman like that to have sway over your people. Why do you tolerate her? Don’t affirm her. Don’t dialogue with her. Don’t wait and see what happens. Get rid of her… or I will.” Apparently, by some means, the Lord had already warned her to repent, but she refused. And so now the Lord Jesus promises to throw her onto the sick bed and make her followers suffer as well, unless they repent. “I will strike your spiritual children dead,” says the Lord. Jesus isn’t messing around here. This isn’t a secondary issue. This is a serious sin worthy of death.

It was also an entrenched sin. There were a number of trade guilds in Thyatira. Suppose you belonged to the local BAT, the Bricklayers Association of Thyatira, and one night the guild got together for a feast. You’d be sitting around the table, ready to partake of this great celebration with your friends and colleagues, and the host would say something like, “We’re glad you could make it. What a happy occasion for the BAT. We have quite a feast prepared for you. But before we partake, we want to recognize the great god Zeus who watches over the bricklayers and has made this dinner possible. Zeus, you see his statue in the corner, we eat to you, in your honor, for your worship. Let’s dig in.”

What would you do in that situation? Stay or go? What would your participation signify before your fellow Christians, before the watching world, before God? Christians in the ancient world didn’t have to go searching for idolatry. It was woven into the fabric of their whole culture. To not participate in these pagan rituals was to stick out like a Yankees fan at Fenway Park. These feasts, with their idolatry and the sexual revelry which would often follow, were a normal part of life in the Greco-Roman world. To remove yourself from them could be socially and economically disastrous.

Which is why false teachers like this Jezebel in Thyatira or the Nicolaitans in Pergamum gained such a hearing. They made being a Christian a lot easier, much less costly, must less counter-cultural. But it was a compromised Christianity, and Jesus could not tolerate it. He was going to make an example of Thyatira to show all the churches that Jesus has eyes like fire, too pure to look on evil, and feet like burnished bronze, too holy to walk among wickedness. He wanted all the churches to know that he was the searcher of hearts and minds and he would repay evil for unrepentant evil.

The error of Jezebel was a serious sin, an entrenched sin, and a subtle sin. The people had probably been told that the “deep secrets” wouldn’t harm them. We don’t know exactly what it meant for the church to learn Satan’s so-called deep secrets. We don’t know if that’s what the false teachers called them or if that’s what Jesus is calling them. But what was going on was probably some kind of false teaching that devalued the material world.

This Jezebel may have been saying, “The physical world doesn’t matter. It’s the spiritual realm that counts. So go ahead and participate in idol feasts and do whatever you want sexually. Those are material things. God doesn’t care about that.” Or she may have been saying, “Look, if you are truly spiritual, then your relationship with God will be strong enough to withstand the deep things of Satan. So go ahead. Participate in evil practices. You can handle it and you’ll probably even learn more about the enemy in the process.”

Whatever it was that she was saying, it was a lie and it was leading people into sin.

The church was more tolerant than Jesus, which is never a good idea.


first love

YOUR FIRST LOVE

I’m currently studying the Book of Revelation at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). It is going great. It’s going to be some thirty-something weeks of deep learning into Scripture.

Some weeks ago, I was sharing with my group how “affected” I have been by Apologetics – I’ve described it as dating Jesus and marrying Jesus. When I became a Christian, everything was awesome. I was so on fire for God, and I spent so much of my time reading my Bible. Reading my Bible was all I did all day long – literally.

I’ve never worked because of my visa status, and I didn’t have children, so I had tons of time in my hands. Of course I’m not blaming India or Islam or any other thing that might have happened, but it is true that ignorance is bliss – for everything.

Studying apologetics has deepen my faith, but it also has challenged it. Actually, the challenge of studying apologetics is what has deepen my faith. It is really great. Do not get me wrong, apologetics is not bad at all. It’s awesome. Last year was very challenging, tough.

Circumstances changed for me, and the spark of my love for Christ was gone. At least the ‘feeling’. I remember crying and calling Jesus a liar. Oh my goodness… I am writing these things because I don’t want to forget how I felt. I want to remember. I want my children to remember with me. I never called Jesus any name – other than a cheater. I really thought He had lied to me, and that He was not my Savior.

I mourned for Him. I clearly remember telling Him that if He was not who the Bible portrayed Him to be, I seriously did not see any reason whatsoever to follow Him, or any other religion for that matter. I felt betrayed because I had reorganized my entire life – my whole worldview – based on His teachings. But if His teachings were a lie, then my life was just a show.

I knew Muslim apologists might argue that Jesus was a great prophet of Islam, so it would still be worth it to follow His great moral example. But while I called Him a cheater, I also didn’t find any other role model better than Him. So if not Jesus, then who? Who was I supposed to follow?


So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’


I am just glad Jesus never took to heart my  against Him. And even though that feeling of being born-again gets lost somehow, this week I felt amazed at how directly Jesus can still speak to me.

This is when I go WHOA because the Bible comes alive .


I [Jesus ] know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first…

Revelation 2: 2-5


I felt comforted that Jesus has seen things that I have endured. It’s encouraging to know that He is with any one who endures hardships for His sake. And I also felt convicted, because even when the feeling is gone, Jesus doesn’t want the spark to be gone. He commands us to repent, and to come back to the love we had at first.

He wants me to love Him again like I used to 🙂

How does this look for everybody? I don’t know, but lately, I am trying to sing a lot. I remember that was one of the things that made me fall in love with Jesus. I used to sing. So today before going to my Bible Study, I listened to this song. It made me smile, and my attitude changed.

I just wanted to share the song with you. It might be corny, but it’s full of Truth 🙂

GREATER (Mercy Me)

Bring your tired, bring your shame, bring your guilt, bring your pain

Don’t you know that’s not your name, you will always be much more to Me

Everyday I wrestle with the voices that keep telling me I’m not right,

But that’s alright…

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me Redeemed

when others say I’ll never be enough

And greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world

Bring your doubts, bring your fears, bring your hurt, bring your tears

There’ll be no condemnation here… You are Holy, Righteous and Redeemed

Every time I fall, there’ll be those who will call me a mistake. Well that’s ok…

There’ll be days I lose the battle, Grace says that it doesn’t matter

‘Cause the cross already won the war

I am learning to run freely, understanding just how He sees me

And it makes me love Him more and more