“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” Rev 2:23b
What is at the heart of this message Jesus has for his people? As we read it we can see that he calls into question those who claim to be his followers but who are involved in sexual immorality and free flowing sacrifices to idols. And this is correct, that is what Jesus identifies. However what is going on under the surface?
The city of Thyatira had a social structure which revolved around a person’s participation in union movements of the ancient world. Most of these were set up around a principal deity, and dependence on this deity was required for business to function well. In order for this deity to bless, sexual performance and sacrifice were essential. Can you see what is lying underneath? Believers were facing a less than ideal scenario. Choose to be faithful to Jesus and be rejected in the workplace and social realm of the city. Choose to be faithful to Jesus and abandon the intellectual and cultural norms of the empire.
In this situation the believers needed to hear that Jesus is the one with eyes which penetrate any performance, but that he is firmly established in his rule and will not be moved by anyone.
Now we may think straight away of applying this section to the areas of idolatry or sexual immorality; areas which are highly pertinent in ministry among East Asia’s peoples. This is a helpful way of leading us into prayer. However I want to suggest that we take another direction. Churches from western nations have had the great blessing of knowing the Lord Jesus for much longer. Structures are in place and theologies have been formed. We have our ways of doing things, but perhaps we are not always correct. The words of the Lord Jesus are such a powerful, and yet at the same time gracious, warning about following anyone or anything other than him.
So the questions begin to flow. Why do we do what we do? Why do we do it the way we do it? Is our motivation for glory directed towards us, OMF or God? Are we simply exporting our Christianity, not humbly living as disciples of Christ where he has placed us? You see, this whole section revolves around the heart and the attitudes which flow out from it.
As we spend time praying, take time to ask God to search you and all of us in OMF, so that we are doing what he desires. Pray for your co-workers in the gospel to have areas of compromise brought to light by the loving and wise king. Let us be known as a people of repentance walking humbly with our God.