The next two churches that Jesus addressed were the lenient and compromising churches in Pergamum and Thyatira. Pergamum was a center of education and culture where the brightest of the brightest lived. The city was filled with idols and even the Roman emperor was seen as a god. Thyatira, on the other hand, was a “blue collar” city where people worked in the trades and adhered to no particular religion.
Jesus commended the Christians in Pergamum because, despite the evil that surrounded them, they remained faithful. They did not go along with the crowd and they stood firm against peer pressure and temptation. The believers in Thyatira were commended for making progress. Jesus saw their love and faith being demonstrated in their service and perseverance and that they were doing more than they had been doing at first.
Unfortunately, both cities were indifferent to the immorality that surrounded them. They may not have participated in the rampant sin directly, but they also made no stand for righteousness. They tolerated evil and allowed it to coexist right alongside them. Because of their compromise, they had no real impact on the world around them.
In our world today there is so much evil that has been allowed to flourish because Christians do not take a stand. People all around us are being led to believe that good and evil can coexist, but the Bible is clear that they cannot. When those of us who know the truth of the Word of God do not rise up and proclaim it, the lines between good and evil become blurred. Good and evil are not interchangeable!
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. – Isaiah 5:20-21 NIV
Even worse than the fact that the churches in these two cities were ignoring evil outside the church is the fact that they were also allowing it to seep into the church. They were allowing false teachers with a message that was contrary to the Word of God to infiltrate the church and lead people astray. Jesus made it clear that if they didn’t clean up the mess they had created, He would!
Today we see story after story of “Christian” leaders proclaiming things that have no basis in Scripture. One deceptive word from one deceptive leader has the power to lead many people away from the truth. As individuals, we need to study the Bible for ourselves and test every spirit to see whether they are from God. (1 John 4:1-3) We cannot tolerate false teachers and allow them to deceive people in the name of Jesus. We cannot tolerate teachers that do not proclaim the Word of God without apology even if the truth may be hard to swallow.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. – 2 Timothy 4:3 NLT
We are the salt and the light of the world. Salt preserves and light illuminates. If we ignore the evil in the world around us or if we allow it to infiltrate Jesus’ church, we will not be effective at preserving or illuminating for God! One day Jesus is coming back, and He promises that those of us who overcome will rule and reign with Him when He does.