By Ray Jewell
“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. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. – Revelation 2:1-7
The first thing that grabs my attention here is the description of Christ. He is the One who holds the messengers to the churches in His hands. He is the One who walks in and amongst the churches. He is keeping an eye on His children, and, it seems, for a two-fold purpose; commendation and condemnation.; praise and rebuke. In other words “way to go” and “you better watch out.”
We probably know more about the church in Ephesus than other church in biblical times. Luke spends three chapters about Paul’s interaction with this body of believers. Paul writes three of his letters to them (Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy). And here in the Apocalypse.
The main positive in this church is doctrinal purity. Their theology was solid. They exposed false teachers. They opposed the Nicolaitans (the name means overcomers of the people). They knew all the right answers to all of the questions.
Yet something was amiss. They had walked away from their first love, Jesus Himself and His heart. The Lord of the Universe said that these faithfully sound people had forgotten to love Jesus and, by extension, they lost a heart for caring for others. Jesus desires doctrinal purity for sure, but not with a cold heart.
They had forgotten the words Paul wrote to them a few decades before, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
There have been times in my past where I have been guilty of doing this very thing. The desire to be right, at any costs, is how I see this happening in life today. Beating people over the head with correct doctrine sets the situation up for a greater rift between the person/people I/we are talking to and helping them to come to Christ. As the old saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (That’s not quite right, but it gets to the point). We are to love those around us. If we have the heart of Jesus right doctrine eventually comes into play, but don’t forget the first love.
Lord, forgive me when I fall into my old ways of being right and give me your heart. Your heart to love people who are different than me. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is someone You care about. All people are image-bearers. You died for all. So help me to love them as you love them. Amen.
Until next time,
TO THE GLORY OF GOD!