Tuesday, June 9

Revelation: "Where's the Love"?

In 1984 Wendy's Restaurant introduced the refrain, "Where's the Beef"? This awesome older lady would inspect the burger and ask, "Where's the Beef?"

We often ask the same question when we look for churches. We typically like good Bible teaching. We don't often ask the more important question though, "Where's the Love"?

Is it possible to know too much of the Bible? Is it possible to read the Bible and know Jesus less as a result? Is it possible to read about the dying of Jesus on the cross yet be unmoved? Is it possible to be be doctrinally sound but dead?

The honest answer to all these questions is "yes". The First Baptist Church of Ephesus went to all the Bible conferences and seminars. They knew the Bible better than the the churches they competed with for members. This was the Bible teaching church! This was the place to go and learn the word.

This apparently was not the place to know Jesus better and fall in love with him! But at least they knew their Bibles! Surely God would understand.

Read: Revelation 2:1-7
To the church in Ephesus
1 "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: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which 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. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices 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 the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

The church in Ephesus had a rich history. They were a church plant of Paul the apostle. Timothy was their sr. pastor and John, the author of Revelation, was a small group leader. Talk about a solid church leadership team!

They were good enough in the truth that they "tested" teachers and found them to be false (v.2). They even suffered for standing up for Christ (v.3). These are good folks! These are people we want teaching in Sunday school and leading small groups. But ...........

Somewhere in the process they lost their love for Jesus (v.4). If we assume the following dates, that the Apostle Paul dies around AD 60 and John writes Revelation around AD 90 then we see how quickly a church can lose its love for Jesus. In 30 short years they went from vibrant to a bunch of knowledgeable folks with little love.

It would appear that we can love truth more than we love the Truth. It would appear that we have a real temptation to love the written word more than the Living Word. I do not think it would be wise to assume that we are at less risk than the church that Timothy pastored!

So, what is the test of love? The test of love is sacrifice! To what extent am I limiting myself for the sake of Jesus? To what extent do I really pray ... I mean invest in time with Jesus? To what extent am I sharing the gospel with others? There are many more questions we could ask.

Ask the Lord yourself. I personally am convicted and need to do business with Jesus on this!

So, what do we do about this? Jesus tells us himself in verse 5. I have developed it in an easy way for me: Remember, Repent and Redo. That simple. That hard.

Remember: the height you used to live at with Jesus. He pictures it as "falling" from a higher level. Remember what that fellowship used to be like. Remember what it was like to first be saved. Remember what it was like to KNOW you needed Him and called out for him the first time. Remember the freshness. Remember the bonds of fellowship and love you shared with Jesus.

Repent: change your mind. That is what "repent" means, to change the mind. Once the mind changes then the actions will follow for we all know that belief comes before behavior! The best way to do this is just tell Jesus that you are far away or tell him what he is telling you in your spirit. Agree with him that what he is saying is true. Admit conviction if you sense it.

Redo: get back to the things you did when you first fell in love. This incidentally is good advice for marriage as well. Back to the beginning. Back to prayer. Back to simplicity. Back to listening. Back to carved out time with Jesus. Redo the things you did at first.

If we do not there is a risk of losing it all (v.5).

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