2 “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 lampstands.
2 “‘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. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 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 lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God(Revelation 2:1-7 ESV).’
As you reverted back to the poor me, selfish thought process, you heard John addressing you first. You heard that their was a message to the angel of the church of Ephesus. It seems that this message is to an angel and the people here. There is an angel involved in watching over our church. He /she has certain responsibilities. The awe, wonder you feel at these thoughts is hard to describe.
God himself walks among the seven golden lampstands, each of the seven churches are mentioned as having a lampstand. He walks among the angels. He knows that we have endured much. God knows of our persecution. He knows we are pressured yearly to burn incense and bow to Ceasar. He knows that our families are in danger and the culture calls us athiests because we don’t hedge our bets on the multitude of gods to burn candles to without any accountability. But, we are selective and bow to the one that is true. Which is the one we should live for and obey.
But, it seems that although we have persevered and have done the right things, we are not as committed as we used to be. We need to return to our first love. You remember when Paul first came to Ephesus and the message had so much power and you felt like it was edgy to follow the Way.
You remember that day when your whole household along with three other families all got baptized. You remember enduring hardship while Timothy pastored the flock, and Hymeneus and Alexander caused so many problems that they needed to be turned over to Satan, in the hopes they would return to fellowship.
You and your family have seen Christ move in the lives of people. You heard second hand of the man who fell from the balcony who Paul prayed over and was raised to life. You saw people healed of diseases. But, that is nothing compared to what Jesus has done in your own heart, and in your own marriage. God is moving. You saw the Priestesses of Artemis become submissive to the Gospel and to their husbands. God has done a mighty work here, but where is the feeling, the drive the extra effort we gave at first?
You thought to yourself, “Aw brother, there is rust on your trust.” We need to exercise our faith. This is what Paul must have meant by in season or out of season. God sees that we don’t accept the openness of the Nicolaitians. We are not fellowshipping with herotics who want to normalize the radical life we are called to, but we are called to lean in. Not, just that but, “Repent,” is the word.
We must not allow the Gospel to become stale. After all we are to celebrate The Last Supper until His return. We break bread, and drink of the cup every week. But, without one of the original apostles or Timothy around, it doesn’t feel the same. There is a definite leadership gap.
Are there not anymore giants among us? That is the problem. How can God want me to return to my first love without the mighty Paul here, or the faithful Timothy, or the one Christ loved, my friend John.
We are without the mighty ones. There is no way we can return to the passionate people we were. You sat there convicted, kind of repenting, but kind of sulking. God does this mean you are not coming to help us? You thought this as you looked at your daughter, little Elizabeth with the bright blue eyes and the largest faith in the whole world. “Maybe God will use her,” you thought. That seems much more likely than me.
You thought about how it has always been hard for you to understand when her faith moment was, until you realized they have all been faith moments. The child like trust is enourmous, even through running for our lives and the death of Paul and Timothy. She wasn’t immune to church politics and the harshness of some of those who belong to the Temples of Artemis and Athena.
She has lost her best friend and others have kept their distance, all because we belong to the Way. Some of those nights and conversations were painful, but some kids just are given faith that is so much larger than themselves. She didn’t have trouble understanding as you explained why we were different in those moments. We believe we have found the one true God. The Messiah of the Jews, and the Savior of the gentiles. You used to worry about her, until you overheard a conversation when she was only 7. A boy tried to make fun of her and called her an atheist, because we don’t participate in any of the Roman pagan customs.
It was like listening to Timothy himself. It was in season and she told that poor boy all about a Jesus who died for her sins and even loved him as mean as he was to her. The boy simply turned around and ran home. The Spirit spoke clearly to you that day, and said, “Don’t worry about her.”
You thought, maybe that is what it means to return to your first love. How do I get back to that newness of life, that freshness of faith? How do I get there? How can I be more like Elizabeth? How do we get back there?
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