“But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. In the same way, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
Would You Jump?
Do you remember as a teen wishing you could do what everyone else around you was doing? And did you ever have a parent ask, in reference to going along with the crowd, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” As a teenager, you probably had mentors and parental figures pose that question to you often. (And if you were clever enough, you probably had a good response to the question!)
We like to think that the older we get, the less likely we are to succumb to the ways of the world around us. And while this may be true in some sense as we continually grow in wisdom and in sanctification, it’s a question we must continually ask ourselves, especially as we seek to lead holy lives that are honoring to the Lord.
Doing The Math
The church in Pergamum was holding on to the name of Jesus and refusing to deny their faith in Him…yet they still fell prey to the immorality and idolatry around them. In the equations of their faith, they chose “Jesus + the world,” rather than simply clinging to Christ alone.
They didn’t ask themselves whether or not they were jumping off that bridge or watering down the intensity of their faith’s convictions. They didn’t ask themselves how they could assist those around them, that they, too, would forsake their idols and come to Christ instead.
Our culture, like Pergamum’s, isn’t as far removed from idol worship as we’d like to think it is. And the world doesn’t see much use for a gospel that doesn’t look that much different from theirs. Our witness and our lives have to look different because they have to be different; they’re fueled and sustained by the God who created us for Himself. We don’t have to follow the crowd to find purpose or joy. It can all be found in Him.
Then and Now
The good news for them—and us—is that the gospel still holds strong and still applies to us, just as strongly today as it did for them back then. And the Word of the Lord was—and is—still faithful to keep not only His promises, but also His people from stumbling off that bridge and out of His grasp. Philippians 1:6 declares to us that the God who began a good work in us will be faithful to see it to completion.
These words in Revelation 2 were full of conviction and of heeding for the church in Pergamum. And they are true for us today, too. As we seek to remain close to His side—rather than towards the willy nilly sways of culture and its chaos and seemingly harmless ideologies—we are empowered to keep the faith (and our witness). This is the good news for us all.
Think about the areas in your life where you need the most direction from the Lord. Are these issues of disobedience as you have fallen prey to the external pressures around you? Or are these more internal, as you are wondering how God’s Word can pertain to your stance on a specific topic, action, or point of view? Whatever comes to mind, take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask for humility and guidance, that you would trust Him in obedience, with clarity. He will guide you as you seek His truth.