In the passage for today as he addresses the church in Ephesus, Jesus points out all the things that he is pleased with. It seems they have really understood how to live righteous lives and avoid sin. He commends their success in discerning false prophets and their patient endurance in the face of persecution. But, for all their triumphs of faith, there is still one thing that Jesus wants to complain about. It seems that in their efforts to rid themselves evil, and because of their commendable zeal for sound teaching and doctrinal purity, they had begun to lose the fine balance between love and justice. Whilst they had fought hard to maintain their pure faith, they had begun to lose the equally important emphasis on patience, affection and forgiveness. We are all familiar with the saying, “two out of three ain’t bad”, and we use it to justify our failures. In this case Jesus begins his letter by commending the church for getting two out of three spot on. His complaint though, is that the one they missed was the most important: Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Revelation 2:1-7 NLT
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lamp stands: “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! 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 lamp stand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favour: 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.
My goal, as I grow in faith, is to try to keep the balance right. It would be so easy to fall into the habit of holding on to well practiced ideas and attitudes that we know are central to the message and that we know we can achieve. The difficult thing is to remain constantly open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us in any given situation. A godly lifestyle is something we should all aspire to, but not if it should make us rigid and uncompromising. We are however, drawn to routine because it makes life less full of surprise and danger. Therefore, when we do find that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ seem to be immovable in their understanding of the faith, we must not judge them harshly but treat them gently and with compassion. As always, the key to avoiding in-fighting in the church is to actively try to demonstrate the love of God with our lives, rather than only with our words.
Amos 1:1-3:15, Revelation 2:1-17, Psalms 129:1-8, Proverbs 29:19-20