Now and then events occur that destroy any familiar schedule or the usual thought processes.
In the middle of January I had a heart attack and a quintuple bypass. I am doing very well but it was my coming home that bothered me—for one thing I did not want my great grandchildren to see me. They would have been traumatized. With both legs and one arm black from bruising, as well as the other arm with a long gash I didn’t think they should see me. And that says nothing about my neck and chest. But my condition did start my thinking processes. I was reminded of a book, How Does A Poem Mean? by John Ciardi and Miller Williams. The book covers all of the ways, reasons and meanings of poetry. One need not be misled. So how does a bruise mean?
My body looked like I had met an uncaring thug in a dark ally, but in reality I had encountered some very caring surgeons, doctors and nurses who saved my life. The bruising did not occur because of evil but because of good. The bruising meant life not death, and this led me to thinking about the Church in the Western world, the Church that too often seems like the dying Church.
There is a sickness in the Western Church. There are many reasons, but undoubtedly the most basic is a lack of love for the Lord Jesus Christ which entails a denial of his authority and word. We may think that the Lord of the Church stands aloof from this sickness but no, like the surgeons and other medical personal he applies his own will to his Church. Listen to his words to the Church of Thyatira:
But I have this against you that you tolerate the women Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and leads my bond servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. Behold I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds.
In Thyatira’s case Christ brings sickness that he might see wholeness in his Church. Repentance is his goal. We may think that the institutions we are watching move away from their biblical moorings will simply redo themselves and continue on. But no, the Lord of the Church has promised to either turn them back to himself or bring them to nothing. This is the Lord of the whole creation we are kicking against—the Lord whose word so many have chosen to ignore.
Jesus is aware that there are still some in Thyatira who have not agreed to the immorality. He promises them no other burdens. But simply hold onto the things that belong to Christ.
Hold on—he wounds to heal and anchors the faithful in himself.