The Truth Can Be Painful

The Truth Can Be Painful

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: “The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. . . Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” Revelations 2:12-16

Unbeknownst to me, a buddy recently recorded me doing a specific lift – a snatch – later sending the video to me. There’s one right way to snatch, and a lot of wrong ways. I don’t often see myself in video, so I imagine I do it correctly, but in watching the video, it’s obvious that I have multiple things to fix. If I want to do it right, I need to work on significant change. That video was the truth that I needed to be shown. Watching it wasn’t comfortable. In fact, it hurt a little to see how bad I am. Remaining blind to the truth though wouldn’t be helpful. Ignoring the truth may be comfortable right now, but it only guarantees that I continue doing it wrong. Accepting the truth hurts, but it’s necessary if I want to do it right.

Today’s passage is like that painful video. In it, Christ spoke to the church at Pergamum. In his opening words, he reminded them that, even though he is full of love, grace, and mercy, his words are a sharp two-edged sword. He speaks truth and the truth he spoke to them was painful. Some of them were apparently using their freedom in Christ to engage in sexual immorality. Jesus bluntly commanded them to repent and, If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. If they wanted to avoid the wrath of God, those in Pergamum needed to change. It was a painful message, but they needed to hear it.

I’m not sure exactly what Christ meant by his warning, but I know what it’s like to live in direct opposition to God’s will. I know the consequences of spitting in God’s face and going my own way. My way is a disaster and when I follow it, I find only misery. Though it’s painful to realize that I must change, if I want to avoid the consequences of opposition to God, I must open my ears to the truth and I must turn around, abandoning my way.

The call to repent is easy to point at those outside the church, but this letter was written to those in church. This painful truth applies to us. Are we using our freedom to follow God? Or are we using our freedom to follow ourselves? If we’re going our own way, we must see the painful truth and we must daily do whatever it takes to change.

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