“The Church of Pergamum”
Again, John is reminding them and us who Christ is and what He has done. He is depicted here as the One in authority who can look into us, pierce us, and who knows who we are and what we want. Then, Jesus calls us to Him and away from our selves and selfishness. Just as a sword is sharp and piercing, so are our wayward ways when we seek to do life and run His church by our own means, apart from His ways and commands. Such thoughts and actions separate us from God and others, just as our judgment for sin, without receiving His grace, will separate us for eternity. God doesn’t want us separated, but He will do this to protect His other children, just as He will separate those who seek to harm us. This is His protection, and it is our choice to draw to Him or draw to our inclinations and sin.
The people in this church at Pergamum were willing to die for the faith, but they were not willing to live for the faith. They were on a teeter-totter of loyalty, holding on to the faith through persecution on one side, while allowing those who were treating others with deception, compromise, and manipulation to continue on the other. We walk on dangerous ground when we say “faith” with our mouths yet do dastardly deeds with our hands. Even to tolerate those who are being deceptive and scheming to others is sin, and will cause extreme dysfunction in our churches. We can come up with all kinds of excuses why we need not attempt to stop such a person, as did the church in Pergamum. But, we need to take seriously the warning from Jesus, who is our Head. He does not want His people manipulated or lied to. Jesus does not want our churches to be places of contention and hurt. Rather, He calls us to make them safe havens of rest and comfort as we worship and mature in Him, and to be secure in Him and in companionship with others. If we are being manipulated or are manipulating others, worship and healthy relationships cannot be nurtured or grown. How sad that would be for us and our community to have a church of dysfunction rather than a place where redemption and sanctification are carried out.
The church at Pergamum was tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming against others, causing them to follow sin, trends, compromise their faith, and not reverence or trust in Christ. Even though they were faithful in persecution, their steadfastness was wavering to those who were deceptive. They were being what we now call “politically correct,” that is, tolerating other ideas that were wrong or contrary just to be what they thought was mature and wise. Thus, they were in danger of being judged harshly if they did not repent. We have to see that we can be tolerant to a point, as long as it does not counter our character or the Word.