WARNING – I have this against you!

Chapter two of Revelation John is relating what Jesus tells him to write to the church at Ephesus. Rev. 2:1b – 3 – “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” Reading these verses would make us believe this church is doing very well compared to the other churches that Christ is critiquing.

The church is being commended for its good works and they had a magnificent program. It was very busy and had plenty of activities. Sin was not tolerated. History tells us that those who professed to be believers but lived the way of the world were excommunicated. The Ephesians would not have accepted sexual immorality for a minute. Then John goes on with Rev. 2:4 – 5 – “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

It appears the Ephesians had become very judgmental and legalistic. They were more concerned how a person lived than showing love for others. Originally they had loved God and they had love for others. But they had completely fallen from the love they initially had. Love must come first. A believer living without love for Christ and others is not living as a true Christian. These Ephesians had become backsliders.

Lamp stands in the temple were used to give light to the priest. Lamp stands were also a symbol for the seven churches established to provide truth or light as taught by Christ. He is not talking to churches but people making up the church. Christ is saying He will remove the light which means that you will stop being an effective church or Christian. Christ will extinguish any light that does not serve its purpose. Those in the church had to repent of their sins to remain truthful to Christ. To be blunt, they had fallen out of love with Christ and others. Their love had grown cold.

An illustration may be best described as a couple falling in love and marrying. Later they fall out of love and get a divorce. They once had a love that could be described, at the beginning, as unconditional. It then changes into a self-centered, selfish love. You are no longer meeting my needs. I deserve more and I can do better on my own. I wrote in a blog: “The love that holds marriages together – forever”, I described how our love for each other increased and we grew closer. However, our love for God had increased as well. The greater our love for God became, the closer our relationship improved.

We may interpret this Scripture concerning only the church but, we, as individuals, are the church. I believe Christ is telling us that if we lose our love our Christian witness becomes insignificant. If our love has faded we need to reignite our relationship with Christ. If we don’t repent and change we will lose the light as Christians. So how do we in this fast pace society with all of its pressures and demands live according to the requirements of God? How do we live a holy life? It requires discipline. Does that mean we must work our way to heaven? 1 Timothy 4:7 – 8 – “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Becoming disciplined spiritually is not working our way to heaven. But we must continually train ourselves to be godly. Becoming godly and obedient doesn’t just happen. It takes self-discipline!

Having been a high school coach I learned the best athletes have a real passion for the game. They love playing and competing. The more they loved the game the more willing they were to physically discipline themselves. So what kind of a Christian do you want to be? Do you just want to play the game or are you willing to put in endless hours in preparation? Doug Lee, co-author, tells that he used to shoot 500 baskets a day six days a week as a pro. How good of a Christian can we be if we only go to church on Sunday and have no time for preparation? WARNING! If we are like one of those Christ was criticizing, He says He will come and take away our light.

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