here are seven churches in chapters two and three of the book of Revelation. Four of the churches God brings out some good points and some bad points about them. Two of the churches God has nothing bad to say about. One church, however, God has nothing to good to say about them.
This week, I’d like to look at one of the churches, the church of Ephesus.
Ephesus is one of the four that has some good and some bad mentioned about it.
I would reckon most all Christians if we took inventory of our lives would agree there is some good and some bad there. Things we are doing right, but there are also things we know we should and could do better. Since all churches are made up of people, it is no surprise the majority of the seven succeed in some areas, but are deficient in others.
When reading the good things listed about the church from Ephesus, the place looks like the dream church. They did things, got things accomplished, and if they had to work up a sweat, that was no problem. They did not rush into things; they had the patience to wait until the time was right. They had a hatred for sin and knew the Scripture well enough, if someone would ever preach some false doctrine, they would recognize it immediately. They did everything for the sake of Jesus’ name and persevered (Revelation 2:2-3).
Jesus then mentions only one thing that is wrong with the church, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).
With all this good and only one thing the matter could it be that bad? After all, most of the churches had something wrong with them. However, this one problem is so severe the church of Ephesus is the only church of the seven God promises to “remove” if they do not repent (compare Revelation 1:20 with Revelation 2:5). Even the church of the Laodiceans, which God had nothing good to say about at all, does not receive the threat of God shutting them down.
Keeping that first love is essential to the life of a church and the Christians that make up the church.
In the gospels, Jesus was asked, “which is the great commandment in the law?”
His response, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
The church at Ephesus worked hard and were very Bible smart, but they lost the real motivation behind what they were doing.
Since every church is made up of individuals; I am going to switch gears and talk about individual Christians.
Why do you do what you do in the church? Why do you teach that class? Why do you volunteer to clean the building or mow the grass; shovel the snow? Why do you take a week out of your summer and be a cabin dad at camp every year? Why do you visit the ailing in the hospital? Why do you sing in the choir or perform on the worship team? Why do you play the piano? I ask these questions not only to the person in the pew but also the people of the clergy. Why do you preach those sermons and all the other work you do?
Are you thinking any of the following thoughts?
“If I don’t do it no one else will.” Does that sound like an attitude of love or an attitude of desperation?
“Everyone expects me to do this; I’ve been doing it for years.” Is that a sense of duty or an attitude of love?
“What will everyone think of me if I just up and quit doing this?” Doesn’t that statement sound a little more self-centered instead of an attitude of love?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to tell everyone to stop working at the church, but from time to time, it is necessary for Christians to take heart inventory – why we do what we do.
God did tell the Ephesians, if they repented, their church would stand the test of time. If you’ve discovered the love has departed from your Christian service, ask God to restore your heart attitude (Psalm 51:10-13).
Love the Lord with all your heart, love your neighbor – all the commandments hang on those two. We can goof up in many ways, but when there is love in our heart God will work through it (Proverbs 10:12).