Summary: This sermon addresses the spiritual malaise that often chokes the life out of a church.
Revelation 2:1-7 – Dear Church, pt. 1
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from
its place, unless you repent.
Crises have a way of getting our attention – awakening us to the things that really matter.
Visit any ICU waiting room, and you will understand. Almost everyone there is in the same boat – utterly helpless – they realize that the stuff we get all wrapped up in doesn’t really matter when your loved one is clinging to life. There, God has your COMPLETE attention. THIS is a wake-up call.
There are OTHER, equally jarring events that arrest our attention. Imagine how you would feel IF after finishing a difficult day at work, you come home to an empty house. Taped to the refrigerator is a note with your name on it. Unfolding the page, the words “I’m so sorry… but I can’t do this anymore” drive you to the floor. Such a letter slams the door on the possibility of working things out. It’s too late for counseling… too late to address the issues that led to this tragic end.
It happens - every day – we get SO caught up in the routine that MANY things, IMPORTANT things, are neglected. But THEN something alarming shake us from our slumber – a diagnosis, a divorce, a death, and suddenly we realize we need to do something – we need to realign our priorities and invest ourselves in the things that REALLY matter before it’s too late.
We have one of those events - wake-up calls - in our text. I can’t even imagine how ROCKED my world would be if I received a personal letter from Jesus telling me that OUR relationship was in trouble! What would we do as a church, if, Jesus, the Lord of the Church, removed His hand of blessing from us??
Let’s consider the context…
The Church at Ephesus is the only church in the NT to receive letters from TWO apostles. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, they were the thriving church of the day. Healthy… sound… evangelistic and making a difference. Though smack dab in the middle of a pagan, hostile environment, theirs was THE premiere church of the day.
But just 40 years later, this church was in serious trouble - as is evidenced by THESE ominous words from Jesus,
“I have this against you… you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
This once powerful testament of the grace of God, this church that had stood head and shoulders above the rest, had become a mere shadow of its former self. The furnace was there – but the fire was out. In just 40 years, the church got wrapped up in unimportant things – and the light of that church was about to be snuffed out. This letter from Jesus, then, was THEIR wake-up call.
Could this happen to US? Have we cooled? Am I… Are YOU as near the Lord today as ever? Or has a spiritual malaise overtaken us so that we find ourselves no longer thrilled at the prospects of worship, of service, of sharing our faith? How about our attitude towards others - the lost?? The Saved??? The Bible DOES say, “they will know us by the love we have for one another,” does it not?
Have WE, like the Ephesians, “abandoned the love we had at the first?”
In this incredibly poignant letter, Jesus warns of the very REAL danger of “abandoning our first love.” His message comes in three parts.
1. First, we see their Faithful Works in verses 2 through 3. – “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.”
He knows your works! I LOVE that… don’t you?? To think, so much of what we do for the Lord ESCAPES the attention of others, but Jesus KNOWS. Listen, I know we don’t do our acts of ministry FOR RECOGNITION. I know that. If we ARE we are missing the whole point. But it blesses my heart to know that the things I do for Christ – are noticed by Him!