From Unfolding Grace:
“As we now wait for (Jesus) to return, our mission is to be, and to make, disciples of Him. But what kind of lives and churches should we be cultivating? What is Jesus’ vision for His people? We do not have to wonder….
Through seven messages, we hear Christ’s vision for how He wants Christians to live and think and love. We hear His vision for what local churches should care about and be committed to. And we need this same message today. The challenges the first churches faced remain challenges we face today.”
Wednesday, October 13th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Revelation 1-3
Focused Passage for Reflection - Revelation 2:1-7
Reflecting on the Text:
Jesus loves His bride so much that He speaks truth to her, over her. In chapters 2-3 of Revelation, He includes 7 letters to 7 churches. While those letters were very likely intended for real, historical churches, they were also meant as a group to be communicated to the one church of Jesus Christ which extends around the world and across the age. They all speak to us, but Ephesus was first, and Ephesus speaks to us loudly and clearly.
Jesus loved this church. (Remember — He is speaking truth to her.) So He opened by affirming her strengths. She served well by fighting for truth. The Ephesians had good doctrine. They fought for it, diligently and faithfully. Jesus affirmed this work by saying the fight for truth is a worthy battle. He told them to stay in the fight. (He is telling us the same!)
But that was not all Jesus said to the church in Ephesus. Two churches out of the 7 in Revelation 2-3 did not get a rebuke in their letters. Ephesus was not one of them. So to Ephesus, Jesus went on to say, “But I have this against you…” Gasp! Can you imagine hearing those words from Jesus?!? And what could He possibly have against a church that had such pure doctrine?
They had lost their first love. Or at least that is the way I often paraphrase it in my mind. But the problem is, Jesus didn’t say they “lost” their first love, as if they were passive in the losing. No, He said they “abandoned” the love they had at first. They actively abandoned their love, while they simultaneously fought for right doctrine. How could this be? How could it have happened to them and what must we be aware of in us? (Remember -- Jesus is speaking to us as well.)
Maybe they were puffed up with knowledge? Maybe they were overly focused on winning arguments? Maybe, likely, they lost sight of Jesus. So Jesus told them to repent, and to do the works they did at first.
But what were those works? Did this love refer to their love for Jesus, or for others? Likely both. And that helps us understand the works. In John 6:29, Jesus said that to do the work of God was to believe in the one whom He had sent. That is, to believe in Jesus! Let us know that our doctrine is vitally important and that at every point, it points to Jesus! And let our believing in Jesus inform, or rather drive the way we love others.
Jesus closed the letter to Ephesus by saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” So do you hear? How do you hear? Do you hear the warning? Do you hear with conviction?
Let us fight for true doctrine with all our might, and let us know in our heart that true doctrine always points to the Author of truth. Hear Him. See Him. Know Him. Love Him.
Questions for personal reflection:
Read 1 Corinthians 13
In light of Revelation 2:1-7, how does this passage show you the interconnectedness of true and love?