Message to the Churches: Pergamum

Revelation 2.12-17

The circumstances in Pergamum are a bit different than those in Smyrna. Smyrna was facing persecution. The temptation for the church was to give up. Pergamum is facing compromise. The temptation for the church is to give in. And some already had.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can relate to the church in Pergamum a lot better than we can the church in Smyrna. Maybe some of us have suffered for our faith. Maybe. But we’ve all been tempted to compromise. We’ve all felt the peer pressure to give in. And unfortunately some of us have.

What does giving in look like these days? Well, maybe we don’t have a physical idol that we are sacrificing to, but anything that we love more than God, anything we are more devoted to, anything that has first place in our lives before Him…that’s an idol (money, family, status, etc). And immorality? What are you watching on Netflix these days? What are you filling your mind with?

Giving in looks a lot like doing what everyone else is doing. Championing the same causes. Jumping on the same bandwagons. Following the same trends. Doing everything we can to fit in.

The dangerous thing about Pergamum is that they seemed to do pretty good against the external pressures. They held fast to the name of Jesus and did not deny the faith. But internally they got into trouble. When Balaam couldn’t curse Israel from the outside, he devised a plan to have them curse themselves from the inside. Sometimes the greatest danger isn’t ”out there” but “in here”. Who are you listening to and how are you letting them influence you? You see, peer pressure only really works with your…peers. Who are your peers? Are they pointing you to Jesus or away from Him? And what about you? Are you pointing others to Him or away from Him? Have you become a stumbling block? If so repent…or else.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Tragic Consequences

Genesis 34

What has happened to Jacob? Where is Israel in all this? Just when Jacob seemed so close to realizing his new identity, he now appears to be so far away.

While there are a number of other characters involved in the story, Jacob’s the primary one. It’s his decision to settle down in Shechem rather than going to Bethel. And his compromise, his partial obedience, sets up the rest of the narrative. It allows Dinah to be in a dangerously vulnerable place. His failure to respond and to lead his family results in the brothers taking matters into their own hands.

This is another one of those episodes that we could ask where is God in the midst of this mess? His name is not mentioned even once. He doesn’t seem to be factoring into Jacob’s thinking, much less his family’s thinking, at this point. I don’t know how long he’s lived outside of Shechem…but it’s been too long. Partial obedience is disobedience…it’s compromise, and he’s compromised far too long. When we are in that place of compromise, God seldom factors into our thinking even when tragedy strikes…even when we experience the consequences of our choices.

So where is God? He’s still there in the midst of the mess. He hasn’t lost control. He is still working in the lives of His people. Jacob, like his daddy and granddaddy, is called to be a blessor of the nations. But also like Abraham and Isaac, his actions result in cursing rather than blessing. Instead of introducing the townsfolk to the love of Creator God, they’re introduced to a sword. Yet God is still in the process to transform Jacob into Israel. He’s not done, and He hasn’t given up on Jacob. But for Moses’ original audience, this episode would have highlighted the danger of compromise. It doesn’t turn out well.

God is still at work in our mess too. When the sin of others tragically impacts us, when our anger overwhelms us, when we are tempted to withdrawal and look out for number one, He sees and He cares. He knows and will one day judge. But praise God that He is patient. If not, all of us would be annihilated. For no one is innocent. Since the time of the fall, when the world was fractured by our sin and rebellion, God has been on a rescue mission. He’s promised a way back to the garden, a way back to life with Him through faith in the One He promised to send…the Genesis 3.15 Redeemer, the Head crushing Seed of the woman, Jesus, who lived a perfect life, died a bloody, horrible death, was raised the third day, conquering both sin and death, crushing the serpent’s head. He has provided the way back for us to Creator God.

I don’t know who you are today…Dinah, Shechem, Jacob, Simeon and Levi…but Jesus died for you. He understands your shame and your guilt, your anger, and your fear. He took it all with Him when He was nailed to the cross. He came to bring life. He wants to restore and heal you. And He wants to remind you that you are an image-bearer. You have infinite value. You are loved.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster