Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Cold Church

The church in Ephesus looked good on the outside.

Revelation 2:1-4 "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 lampstands: 2 "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. 3 You have patiently suffered for Me without quitting. 4 "But I have this complaint against you. You don't love Me or each other as you did at first!

Ever visit a church that you have never been to before? Maybe you are looking for a new church home and you want to know that the church that you are considering is really a good church. You can visit a few weeks or maybe even read some reviews online but you can't be sure that the church is really a good church. We may be fooled but Jesus has the eyes to see the true condition of the church. (Revelation 1:14)

The church in Ephesus looked great, they had ministries and programs, they had good teaching, they defended the truth and didn't tolerate false doctrine but they missed one thing that Jesus wanted to warn them about.

This church was in a very pagan city with a culture that must have been influenced by the temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess Diana which was located there. Ephesus was an important and famous city, the temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, they had games that rivaled the Olympics, a library and a large amphitheater.

This church had an awesome start, the ministry started with Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos worked at the new church plant and then Paul came into town and reaped a great harvest. Timothy served there and John was also there until his exile to Patmos. (Acts 18:24-28, 19:23-41)

The message to the church in Ephesus is that what we do for the Lord is important but so is why we do it! The church was serving sacrificially, they were defending truth and they were enduring persecution but their motivation was wrong.

You can be very busy serving God but if you are doing it just to follow the rules instead of it coming from an overwhelming love for him then you are no better than the religious leaders that Jesus was talking to:
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied, "You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind."
Jesus spoke those words to some of the best people on earth. A lot of the religious leaders were really very good people that followed the rules and tried to do exactly what the law said they should do. The problem with that is, even the best religious leaders of Jesus day with good intentions, were guilty of serving and sacrificing without loving.

It may surprise you to learn that the church that is passionately serving must be careful to be passionately loving as well because it is possible to serve, sacrifice, suffer persecution and physical abuse and yet not really love Jesus Christ. Without love for Jesus it's just religion!

If you can be a church that does not passionately love Jesus in a persecuted country then the odds that a church in the United States does not love Jesus properly is very high. We live so comfortably that we begin to rely on ourselves and forget about the source of our blessings.
Psalms 32:11 So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey Him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
The intensity of my love for Jesus needs to burn strong everyday. His love for me never fails but my love for him needs to be cultivated and nurtured at all times. It will be so awesome when we get to live without sin and there will not be any competition from the world for my affection.

I need to stop and take time to remember the work that God has been doing in my life and continue to fellowship with him everyday because I love him and want to serve him joyfully.