March 2, 2022
We have to go back fifteen hundred years to see the principle established in Leviticus and even Numbers that applies here in Pergamum. Leviticus is, essentially, a manual for worship. The point is that Israel is called to holiness because God is holy. There shall be no pagan worship or adoption of pagan ways. In fact, many of the specific rules and regulations were put in place by God to remind His people that they were different… they were set aside to be different from their neighbors. That included principles for human sexuality as well as distinct roles for men and women. It's good to be different.
These letters to the seven churches are written within the context of timeless truths from Leviticus and Numbers. God's people are called to behave differently from their neighbors. "Don't defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled…As for you, you are to keep my statutes and my judgments," says Leviticus 18:24 & 26. In other words, don't be like the pagan culture in which you find yourselves living.
Today we see many churches working hard to be as much like the culture as possible. For decades it's been popular for pastors and church leaders to build a church on splashy worship events and meeting people's felt needs. If something is popular culturally, then the church has to offer something like it in order to attract people. Relevant and contemporary churches are more affirming than convicting, sentimental rather than theological, entertaining rather than edifying, frivolous rather than worshipful. I have to confess, sometimes I have erred on the side of wanting to be more attractive to the unchurched or marginally churched. You get the point. Some pastors and church leaders think that if they can just get close enough to everything people enjoy in the culture, then they can somehow win them over.