We’re starting to see a pattern in Jesus’ messages to the churches. Today we learn what he wants to tell the church in Pergamum. He comes to them as a sharp two-edged sword. You may recall a similar reference to the Word of God in Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17. The Word is Jesus, as John opens his gospel. Jesus is truth. Therefore, the Word is truth. We’ll see a focus on standing strong on the Word of God in today’s message.
Jesus commends these people for standing strong despite the evil surrounding them, tempting them. That can be hard. We can probably identify with what it feels like to see messages in the world that are contrary to our Christian values and beliefs. We see how what we hold dear can be trampled on and made ugly by people’s own misunderstandings. It can be difficult to stand strong for God in the face of hostility or fear. Usually, we encounter the fear of not being accepted. Do we ever avoid tough conversations so that we can be “politically correct?”
We can do better at standing strong and being true to our convictions. That’s called integrity. We may not win any popularity contests, but, quite frankly, if eternity depends on it, it’s not a bad price to pay. I’d much rather be known as a woman of integrity who lives out her faith rather than one who secretly has a relationship with Jesus and then lives to please the world. There is no alignment there. We aren’t being our authentic selves when we deceive and/or try to please the world and not God.
Jesus was equally frustrated by how the people of the church in Pergamum were tolerant of the sinfulness around them. It was as if they were okay with looking the other way. It’s not okay. We can’t just look the other way and pretend sin, inequality, deception, persecution, etc. isn’t happening. Just as bad is to be in denial and think that so long as we don’t do “those” things, it’s okay. Jesus said, “Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” The truth of Scripture is at our disposal to read, consume, digest, and live by. We can stand strong for God when we stand on his Word.
I’m not exactly clear on the ending here and what these white rocks are all about. What do you think? The color white would suggest “purity.” The fact that it’s “secret” is kind of cool. We belong to God, and he knows our name! Maybe it’s like our “forgiven” name instead of the “given” name chosen by our parents. Our “forgiven” name is chosen and given by God to set us apart as his when we stand strong.
Where are you feeling weak? Are you being tolerant of the things that God hates? Take some time today to wrestle with these questions and be clear on where you stand.
Let’s pray. Lord, it can be hard to go against the flow. Help me to see how I can make a difference so that others have the courage to stand strong beside me. Thank you for your message to the church in Pergamum. It helps me understand how you want me to act and respond to the world around me. There is so much oppression and hate. Lord, help me bring love and reflect you in all I say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.