Love Part One: The Problem of Lost Love

You have abandoned the love you had at first.

Rev. 2:4

 

 

By means of satellite imagery and software programs that can find almost any address on the planet, I can see almost any church building in the world from my study at home. If, for example, I want to see a certain church in South Africa, I can open a software application and a  spectacular picture of our blue and green planet spinning in space appears on my computer screen. I type in Africa and the spinning planet rotates to the giant continent of Africa. I then typed in South Africa and zoom in on the country of South Africa. I type in Barberton (a city west of Swaziland), and in seconds I see the entire city. Finally, I type in the address of the church. Before I know it, I’m looking down at the roof of a church building 9,800 miles (15,680 km) from my home.

As powerful and amazing as this technology is, however, I still can’t see inside the building. I see only the roof. I cannot see or hear God’s people as they worship, nor can I look into the hearts and minds of the people who gather there. But there is one who can see perfectly into every human heart. He can perceive the corporate spirit of a church. Not only can he see into every church and every heart, he can walk among the churches on earth with- out being detected! And he does it all without the benefit of our feeble computers, cameras, or satellite imagery.

In fact, Christ has been walking among the churches for almost two thousand years. Near the end of the first century, Jesus Christ peered into seven specific churches. He did not just look down at rooftops. He examined the corporate spirit of the church and probed the mind and heart of each believer. Then, in the last book of the Bible, the Revelation to John, Christ reveals his evaluation of each of these seven churches.

Imagine if Christ were to look down at your church, walk in your midst, and give you his evaluation. It would be unnerving to say the least! But in a sense, Christ has already done this.

 

Through the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), he addresses the problems and victories, strengths and weaknesses that are common to local churches today.

Therefore, Christ’s evaluation of these seven churches should be of paramount concern to us. His evaluation is perfect. He cannot be deceived. He has eyes “like a flame of fire” (Rev. 1:14) that penetrates the deepest recesses of the heart. All things are open to his scrutiny. Without his evaluation, we are easily deceived and blinded to our errors. Too often we care more about church-growth strategies or the latest trends than we do about what Jesus Christ thinks.

We can learn much from Christ’s evaluation of each of the seven churches of Asia Minor, but we will focus this study on his evaluation of the church in Ephesus. It addresses the issue of love, particularly the problem of love that has grown cold. This issue is of utmost importance because love is vital to the survival of our local churches today. The text of Christ’s evaluation is found in Revelation 2:1-6:

 

 

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 lamp stands.

 

 

‘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 lamp- stand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’”[1]

 


[1] Dave Jordan, M. E. Pulpit Magazine December 2012 Vol. 01. No. 3.

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