Friday, August 12, 2005

Lessons from the Church at Ephesus

1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ (Revelation 2:1-7, NKJV™)

I know that the evangelical church is in a mess today and we need more than ever to diligently guard the truth. However, we need to be careful that in our endeavor to battle for the truth that we do not neglect our fellowship with Christ and keep our hearts tender for the Lord. We can get so caught up in the battle that our service becomes more mechanical and loveless, and we can drift into dead orthodoxy. While the Lord certainly commends the Ephesians for their stand on the truth, he CONDEMNS leaving their first love – Himself! The danger can be so subtle. We get caught up in battling and can neglect our time in fellowship with our Savior. If our love for the Lord begins to wane and we begin serving more out of duty, we run the danger of becoming cold and loveless. This also affects our relationships with other people resulting in a poor witness and testimony. (1 Cor. 13:1)

This reminds me of the passage in Matthew with Mary and Martha. Martha was busy laboring away, but was so preoccupied with the task at hand that she neglected the most important thing – spending time with Jesus.

“38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42, NKJV™)

Much like Martha, we too can get so caught up in the work that we essentially shove Jesus aside in the process. We get into a rut and our service becomes a dull routine. Yes, we ARE certainly to stand firm and labor for the truth, but let us not forget to make time for our fellowship with the Savior. Let us also not forget the battle is ultimately the Lord’s, not ours. Just as the Lord had ownership of the battles that Israel faced (1 Samuel 17: 46-48; 2 Chronicles 20:14-16), He is also in charge of the battle that we are involved in. We are essentially His soldiers taking orders from Him. And guess what? We know from Scripture that He will be victorious in the end! (Revelation 19-22) Even if it seems that everything is in total chaos at times, in reality the Lord has everything under control and He will triumph in the end. It is very encouraging to reflect on those passages of Scripture. No matter what happens, we are secure in Christ and will be spending eternity with Him as He rules and reigns for forever.

The Lord warns the Ephesians that if they did not repent, he would take away their witness and their ministry would no longer be a light to others. The remedy was to repent and “do the first works”, to return to the fervent love and zeal they had when they first began with Christ.

This, however, is NOT an excuse to avoid battling or laboring for the truth. Unfortunately, I hear a lot of this today. We simply need to be reminded not to neglect our relationship with Jesus.

1 comment:

Chris P. said...

Very good post. Unfortunately those who do stand on the side of sound doctrine and exegesis are often accused of having dead orthodoxy. There is never a thought that zeal for the Lord and His Word is love.
I enjoy your blog.