“There is no compromise when it comes
to corruption. You have to fight it.”
– A. K. Antony, Indian Politician
The Christians in Pergamum lived in a time period when the city was thriving, experiencing great growth but also great zealousness for their pagan gods. The persecution experience of the Christians in Pergamum was similar to those in Smyrna. The Christians in Smyrna did not bow and worship the emperor, however, the Christians in Pergamum did. This resulted in corruption entering the church.
The word for “church” in the Greek language is ekklesia. This word in Greek is a compound word telling us that when we accept Christ we become the “called out ones”, meaning we are called out of the world to be different. Notice how Peter describes this sentiment in his epistle, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB).
The struggle within Christianity is walking the balance of being different from the world. Sometime the temptation is to segregate ourselves from the world so as to not become contaminated by the world. At other times the temptation is to be in the world in order to reach people for Christ, but we can go too far and embrace the world and not the people.
Notice how theologian, William Barclay. describes this Christian requirement:
“Those who are not prepared to be different need not start on the Christian way at all. The most common word for a Christian in the New Testament is hagios, whose basic meaning is different or separate. The Temple is hagios because it is different from other buildings; the Sabbath day is hagios because it is different from other days; God is supremely hagios because He is totally different from human beings; and the Christian is hagios because he or she is different from others.” (The Revelation of John, Vol. 1)
Some of the Christians in Pergamum struggled with being different. They struggled with the call that Jesus placed on them to ‘come out of the world.’ However, those who successfully wrestled with this reality will receive the prize of the faithful ones. They will receive a brand new name etched in stone and it will be theirs for all of eternity when Jesus comes back for all of us.
May we successfully wrestle against the temptations of compromise, may we lift each other up and work towards the faithfulness Jesus requires us to have. And may we all be successful in Jesus name!
Grace and Peace