When I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, we had no air conditioning and the summer was brutal. We lived on streets that were paved black asphalt, with sidewalks made of concrete. In the summertime, the streets would absorb the heat all day long and then radiate it during the night. When we went to bed we had the windows wide open with the hope that there would be some breeze to cool us down. I slept in the least clothes I could and I don’t even recall having a fan. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and the sheets were wet from my sweat. But, that’s the way it was. We had no recourse. We had to ‘tolerate’ the hot summers in the city.
In those days, ’tolerate’ meant “to accept or endure (something or someone unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance.” It had a different emphasis then. Unfortunately, ‘tolerate’ today is primarily emphasized this way, “to allow without question any different opinion without interference or opposing opinion”.
Today, we must ‘tolerate’ the opinions of everyone concerning politics, bringing up children, marriage, divorce, sexual orientation, and even Biblical teachings, without our opinion mattering. I just read an article about a church which “had a “Drag Sunday” a couple of weeks ago, in which drag artists sang, prayed, and performed. A drag speaker during the service said the goal was “celebrating and uplifting the voices of drag artistry within the church. Drag itself, the speaker said, is ’divine’”. According to the trending world view of progressive America, we should not state that this kind of lifestyle is contrary to Biblical truth. We are ‘intolerant’ if we do.
The Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) was a church that had a history of “deeds…love…faith…service…perseverance” but they tolerated teachings of sexual immorality and idol worshipping. Jesus warned them and then exhorted them to “hold firmly to the end”. This was the promise which
Jesus gave to them. “The one who overcomes, and the one who keeps My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE
POTTER ARE SHATTERED, as I also have received [authority] from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.” (Rev 2:26-28 NASB)
According to the Bible, we are all heirs of Christ, all entering into the millennial kingdom and the New Heaven and Earth with Him for eternity. However, each of us will have different roles in that kingdom based on the good works we performed while in our mortal bodies. The “overcomer” in Revelation 2 and 3 is one who lives the walk of a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and will receive rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Some will simply enter the kingdom, but others will share in the rulership of the kingdom as co-regents with the King of Kings.
The “one who overcomes” in this promise will be given very powerful authority over the nations. The “morning star” which Jesus refers to could be understood this way. “The Lord is promising the overcomer that he will share His royalty and splendor as the morning star. First, the Lord said that the overcomer would be given a dominion like His own (cf. 2:27b) “as I also have received [authority] from My Father”), and so here in 2:28, the overcomer will be given a rule and splendor like that of the Lord’s. In this promise the Lord promises a dominion and splendor just like His own.” (Studies in Revelation, J. Hampton Keathley III)
It is incomprehensible to me to imagine being a co-ruler with Jesus Christ, but that’s what He promises to “the one who overcomes”. We may not seek that role this side of the kingdom, but what a glorious eternity it will be for “the one who overcomes”. All of us should be working now to achieve the rewards promised to “the one who overcomes”. The Lord will decide what role we play in His kingdom. This is the time to evaluate your devotion to following Jesus Christ daily.
An Australian pastor, Stephen McAlpine says, “there is a culture, which is highly evangelistic and actively hostile to our orthodox standards of living. It considers sexual ‘freedom’ and ‘authenticity’ to be vital to personal and social flourishing. Biblical morality is therefore seen as dangerous to society and potentially deadly to LGBTQ individuals. The same vitriolic stance is taken with regard to abortion, euthanasia, or any other personal ‘freedoms’ that are ‘threatened’ by biblical faith.” We need to ask ourselves, “Am I tolerant with the progressive culture around me?” “Am I being conformed to this world system, which is contrary to what God declares in the Bible?” “Am I devoted to holding firm to my Biblical convictions, no matter what the consequences are?” “Do I want to co-reign with the King of Kings?” “If not, why not?” The choice is ours. Be obedient to God’s Word and be rewarded, or be tolerant with the world’s ideas and lose rewards in shame.