Mar 19 2012 - E100.97a – Revelation 2:1-17, Ephesus
The church at Ephesus had notable history. It had been founded by the apostle Paul who had laboured there for some years. It was the 'mother church' and focal point of Christian activity within an area of Asia Minor. As John writes his letter, the church is commended by Christ for its soundness of doctrine and its hard work, even in the face of trials and persecutions; surely a model church? But Christ adds, "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" (Revelation 2:4-5).
Both churches and individuals can keep going through the motions of the Christian life even as the heart grows cold. We may retain a fine reputation with others but that counts for nothing if the fire of our first love is all but extinguished; "Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that all of our work for the Lord is empty show without love; a love for him who first loved us and a love for others that reflects the passion in the heart of God.
Each of the letters to the seven churches ends with the plea, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (2:7 etc.). We can go through the motions on our own, but to live the life Christ calls us to live we must live by the Spirit; we need to be sensitive to his voice, obedient to his calling and dependent upon his power.
Lord, give me ears to hear what you are saying to me today and a heart of love that readily responds to your call.