What we need right now is the love of Christ. I mean, we need to learn the love of Christ. People are divided over their divisions! Racism and discrimination is in the Church and so are a whole lot of other sins that hurt others. Heartbroken painful stories are being shared of people’s lives. The Church has had wonderful, beautiful seasons where its people have understood the heart of God. It has also had seasons when it has harmed itself and people have left in droves. The answer is always found in the love of Christ.
So here we begin. A letter to the Pastor/leader, the messenger/angel of the church. From Jesus who is moving through the churches, observing/knowing and then revealing what He sees in the context of revealing an aspect of Him that John saw at the start of this revelation.
In all of the letters Jesus will say, “I know what you do.” In all the letters Jesus will appeal to them at the end to really listen to Him.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2 v 1-4)
Read it again slowly.
Can you list the many great things about your Church? What about your Christian life? You’re doing okay yes? Be careful! GK Chesterton wrote ‘The one spiritual disease is thinking one is quite well’, (The innocence of Father Brown)
The Church at Ephesus became well known for being good people in that they did good works. They were charitable people, helping the poor, foodbanks and other community outreaches. They had gone through a lot of suffering and persecution for their faith. But they persevered and they endured hardships for Christ. They were mature, seasoned, faithful followers of Christ. Yet …!
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first” (Revelation 2:4 NLT)
You can point to many things about the success of the church and its message. It can be growing and doing so well but Jesus sees something is wrong underneath, at the heart, and it is love.
How did this church move to this point from where they began 40 years earlier?
“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6 v 24
Now Jesus says have lost their first love for Him.
Stay in love with Jesus!
To stay in love will not come naturally in fact if we do not take action we will definitely grow cold.
We need to keep on choosing Jesus.
We need to keep on putting Jesus first in our decisions.
We need to keep on being blown away by Jesus’ love for us.
But see something else. The discovery of this love is not through a single individualistic pilgrimage. It is with others. To learn the love of Christ is to do that in community and through people. We will only ever know this love by expressing that love. The unconditional, non-judgmental, selfless, sacrificial love within community is where we will know the love of Christ. Does that go wrong? Of course it does. Throughout the day there are countless moments when we face the choice to know the love of Christ in how we respond to people (who are at times not easy to like).
Keep the love as well as the deeds!