good church: thyatira

So many hospitals and medical institutions exist today because of Christians. Take a look at the hospitals that you see while on your way to work you’ll see, the Methodist hospital, the Presbyterian hospital, St. Jude’s Catholic Hospital, and many more. Christians gave medical attention to people in a time and place when it was neither smart nor practical to do so.   Imagine living in a time when an unstoppable plague is moving through the city.  Probably the stupidest thing to do would be to lay hands on the sick.  Yet Christians did this and not necessarily because they were more compassionate than everyone else but because many of the early Christians had seen the resurrected Christ or heard the eyewitness accounts.  Death had lost its sting, the fear of death became a foreign thought, and in fact they looked forward to following in the footsteps of their savior and rising again from the dead.

The resurrection is a promise for believers in Jesus but it also sheds light on a particular worldview.  In Thyatira many Greeks believed in what Plato and Aristotle developed as a kind of dualism.  That is body and Spirit are separate and you can do separate things to feed each of the needs.  This worldview leads people down a road of having two different and incompatible lifestyles.  This worldview can be particularly damaging in a church where the promise of Resurrection is all through the scriptures.  An understanding of resurrection communicates that the physical body and spirit as one and not two separate needs to be filled.  While Plato and Aristotle taught that the body was decaying and useless, the resurrection showed the importance of the body.

In the church of Thyatira there was a woman named Jezebel who claimed to be a prophetess and she led many astray.  All indications were that she taught the dualistic worldview of the time.  It seemed like a spiritual love of God and good doctrine and yet a physical and moral rebellion to God.  When you go down the Jezebel road of living you will eventually get to the place where you compartmentalize your faith and live two different life styles.

Thyatira was a town of trade guilds.  This was like the chamber of commerce except with religious rituals tied to them.  In order to do any business in this town you had to be a part of a guild.  The philosophy of a dualistic nature was convenient for these young Christians to latch on to.  If they could just have the attitude of, “what happens in the trade guild stays in the trade guild,” then they could do whatever they wanted. Apparently, Jesus wasn’t cool with this.

It is fascinating to note that this church faced a threat from within their walls and Jesus threatened to come take care of the problem.  So what does a good church look like?  I think its members look the same while conducting business as they do at church.  I think it’s members know that a belief in Jesus means more than  just a mental understanding.  I think a good church is fearless and bold because of their grasp on the resurrection promise.

 

 

Major thanks to: Daniels, T. Scott, Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelations Letters for Today’s Church.

A great read and a great historical and cultural resource

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  • M. Borer

    Absolutely! One has to walk the walk 7 days a week or all of our talk at services is useless.

    It’s like Maimonides said, we should both deal fairly with others and study the word of the Lord, so that all shall say “Woe to those who do not study [God’s word]! This one who has studied [God’s word], see how beautiful are his ways!”