The Church of Ephesus: What Are They Missing?
Are you enjoying this mind-perplexing and confusing winter weather? One day it feels like spring…another day I want to stay inside under a blanket…another day it is raining…another day there is a chance for some snow…another day the sun is shining…and on another day the the grey clouds just won’t go away. I wish the weather would just make up its mind! And when I say “make up its mind,” I mean that it would just snow enough to cover the ground. Back where my parents live, they got over 5inches of snow earlier this week and they are getting more before the end of the weekend. My niece and nephew only had two days of school last week. And here we are, playing in the rain. I think we should all pray for some snow! What do you think? Without some snow, winter is missing something…
Speaking of missing something, have you ever felt like you were missing something? Maybe you were missing a sock? Maybe you were missing your favorite shirt? Maybe you were missing your homework because you thought your dog ate it? Maybe you were missing your friends over the Christmas break? Maybe you were missing out on a friend’s birthday party because you didn’t clean your room when you were asked to clean it so you were punished? In life we encounter moments when we are missing something. Did you know that one of God’s churches was missing something? I wonder what they were missing?
Today, I want to introduce you to the Church of Ephesus found in the Book of Revelation–the last book in the Bible. The Church of Ephesus is one of seven churches mentioned in this book, and it was missing something very important, but God still wanted to help them: God wanted to help them find what they were missing. For 30 years, the church at Ephesus appeared to be excelling on all levels: they were committed to sound doctrine and guarding against false teaching, they sought to do good works in the community around them, they ferociously defended the glory of Christ’s name above all other names, and they staunchly defended against moral compromise. On many fronts, they appeared to be the perfect church, if such a thing existed. Yet for all they were doing well, Jesus had one thing against them: they had left their first love, Jesus Himself.
The Church of Ephesus did a lot of good things for the people, the community, and for God’s glory, but they were missing the most important thing. They were missing Jesus’ love in what they were doing. To some regard, the Church of Ephesus is like us at times. We do good things but we don’t do them with Jesus in mind. Instead we do good things because that is what we are told to do not because that is what we want to do. For example, when we are told to take out the trash, we just do it and don’t think about how taking out the trash is helping our parents. When we make our bed, sometimes we just through the comforter over the wadded sheets and messed up pillows instead of taking the time to straighten the sheets and fluff the pillows: we make the bed because we have to not because we want to. And when our parents ask us to be nice to our siblings, we only do so when our parents are watching instead of being nice to them all the time….Being nice is an act of love. We do a lot of good deeds, but sometimes we don’t do them with love in our heart. And Jesus wants us to do all things with love in our heart!
Paul ran into a similar situation in Corinth. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” The Message Bible, a contemporary reading of the text, phrases this verse in this way, “If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.” I’m nothing more than the sound of rusty gate. We need to return to our first love, Christ, if we want to move mountains, if we want to make a difference, if we want to reach people where they are, if we want to fill our pews, if we want to be the church that God needs us to be. Without love in our heart, we are missing the ability to do great things.
The Church of Ephesus, like you and me, needed to return to their first love because it was missing. Our church even needs to experience this love too. When it comes to our church, we have done, are doing, and will continue to do good things, but I know those good things can become great things when we do them with the love of Christ in our heart; when we do them with intentions of making and strengthening relationships; when we make every meal, every kids party, every cleaning day an act of God’s love in motion; and when we put God first in our life. The church is not a building and it is not a steeple. The church is the people who seek to return to the love of Christ because without it they are nothing but with it they are everything and more. With God’s love we are everything and more.
So, what are you missing? What is Jesus helping you try to find? The Church of Ephesus is our first stop to being the person and church God needs us to be. God needs us to act with the love of Christ in our life to not simply do good things but to do great things. Are you willing to act with Christ’s love in your heart?
Let Us Prayer: Dear Jesus, fill us with your love. Help us to notice what we are missing so that we can return to you with an open heart and open mind to do your will. Jesus, fill us and guide us with your love. Amen.
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