Josh Mounce - March 15, 2020

Thyatira: The Divided Church

Under Pressure

Part of the pain of growing older is learning the world isn't as black and white as we thought it was. We struggle to navigate a life - and a faith - that is messier than we wish it were. The Church in Thyatira faced similar problems - with different teachers advocating different solutions to their tension. They needed a Jesus with burning eyes and bronze feet (what?!). And so do we.

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This sermon was written and delivered by Josh Mounce

My wife and I just recently finished watching “The Good Place”. Which, if you don’t know if about a group of people who die and end up in the afterlife which has both a “good” place and a “bad” place. And, as the title indicates, these people are all in the good place. But right off the bat there’s a hitch. One of them isn’t supposed to be there because she, by her own admission, was definitely NOT good. She enlists the help of a philosopher to help her get “good” enough so no one will notice.

We loved this show because it didn’t just gloss over everything as good or bad, right or wrong. It really dug into the depths of how we make decisions. One of the thought experiments they often referenced was “the trolley problem”.  Picture a trolley racing down a hill on a track, the brakes are busted, and up ahead there is a split in the track. You are controlling the trolley and have to choose. On the left there is a kid playing on the track and on the right are 5 adults having an afternoon stroll. There is nothing you can do to make them move. Which way
do you direct the trolley? If you do nothing, the 5 will be hit. So do you do nothing and allow 5 to die, or intervene and by your actions kill 1?

Now, I know for certain that I have no idea what any one of you would choose. And that’s because this is a situation in which your life experience, spiritual beliefs, and even just general outlook on life impact what you would decide. Because really, there isn’t a good or right choice. There are times in life where we can feel like this, like we are faced with an impossible decision. Like no matter what we decide someone is going to judge us for making the wrong decision. Major life decisions can often be miserable and anxiety laden. Especially when they feel morally ambiguous. Because that fear of how others will view us on the other side of it can be paralyzing. And these times of life are when I sometimes wish to be a kid again, you know when everything was black and white. But the older we get the more we see things in shades of grey.

BUT the good news is this: We have a God who judges our hearts and minds and sees into the innermost parts of our soul. HE is the one who knows why we made the decision that we did. I’m not saying that that makes it instantaneously easier but it sets the standard for how we should treat each other. And since we are not God, we need to approach each other with grace, accountability and honesty.

Knowing that God sees our hearts and minds is what can help lead us into a deeper relationship with God, each other, and help us make these tough decisions.

Join us Sunday as we explore faith in a world of grey.

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