By David Baumann
A Reading from Revelation 2:18-29
18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze: 19 “I know your works — your love, faith, service, and patient endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication. 22 Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings; 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. 24 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; 25 only hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; 27 to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered — 28 even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. 29 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Some months ago, I read a terrific mystery in which the protagonist is a priest-detective. In one confrontation, an opponent of the priest angrily snarls something like, “Look! You hold to your standards and I’ll hold to mine, okay?” And the priest responds something like, “No. The standards I follow are those established by God, and yours are leading you to ruin.” Now, I suspect that many readers would be embarrassed by his retort, considering him to be offensively narrow-minded, judgmental, and intolerant. But the thing is, whether his words would be popular or not, the priest is right, and he speaks with his opponent’s welfare in mind.
Jesus, in today’s lesson from Revelation, says the same thing. In this letter, the church in Thyatira is warned against false doctrine and immorality; more than that, and perhaps more to the point, it is warned against allowing such things to flourish in their churches among those who claim to be believers. It is of the utmost importance to hold the true Faith and its practice. We see from this letter and the others that immorality and false teachings confront us even in the Church, and the Church is often too tolerant (2:20). The temptation to fall from the Christian way of life is constant and great, and we must always strive to be true in order properly to fulfill our charge from the Lord.
The image of Jesus in today’s reading is fearful — fire and bronze, with resolute power. And his promise to those who are faithful is not just to hear him say, “good job”; it is to give authority like his own over others, authority marked by an iron rod that breaks the malformed “pottery” of corrupt nations. And the best part? He gives the promise of the Morning Star, which must be the dawning glory of Christ after persevering through darkness.
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield; he retired last year. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Dallas
The Diocese of Ijesa North East (Church of Nigeria – Anglican Communion)