I’ve done a lot of background reading, after looking at Revelation 2:1-7, referred to by Selwyn in today’s study, regarding the Ephesian church.
Revelation, 2:1-7, New Living Translation: “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from (Jesus) the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! [Other translations have variations of, ‘You have forsaken your first love’. ]
Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
It’s clear that our first love – is our love for God; and from this first commandment, comes the second commandment – to love each other in the same way that Jesus loves us. The importance of our love for God is that when we leave our love ‘behind’, we fall – not just a little way – but all the way back, to where we started our journey. All, what we do, if it does not have the love of God as its focus – is useless – it is of no value!
Here is what Selwyn writes in today’s study: “The Ephesian church was a top-notch church in the eyes of many – busy and industrious – but in the eyes of Christ they had ‘fallen’.
By that standard I would say many contemporary churches have ‘fallen’ – correct in doctrine, beautiful in ritual, eloquent in preaching, rich in culture, but lacking in love. Such churches should be careful, for if this lack of love is not repented of, Christ will come and remove His lampstand from their midst.”
It’s important to understand the nature of our love for God, here in John’s Gospel (14:15-21, NLT), we hear Jesus talking to His apostles: “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.
The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
No, I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. …”
A loving Church never teaches that we can make up our own (independent) mind, about following Jesus’ commandments. Many people are blind to this aspect – do you agree?