HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME TOO?
Lord, do not permit me to lose my first love.
Read REVELATION 2:1–11
To the Church in Ephesus
2 “To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far 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. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
To the Church in Smyrna
8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
a Revelation 2:1 Or messenger; also in verses 8, 12 and 18
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Meditate on this greatest command: “Love the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5).
Jesus has some encouraging things to say about his church in Ephesus, a church in several respects sounding rather similar to some today. Working hard, making church thrive, being a part of the community: the list of jobs is an endless one and, corporately or individually, we can become so busy with church that we may barely have a night when we are not out at a meeting. Many Sundays can go by when we have given again, but not received. This church has also been through tough times, enduring hardship, and yet they are still carrying on. It sounds commendable, but in fact Jesus is not sovereign. The church needs to repent, return to her calling and get to know God again. It’s a scenario which resonates with so many Christians and leaders: as we get swamped in committees and obligations, does it come at the expense of our love for Jesus? Verse 5 contains some ominous language: without him, the church lampstand gets removed.
We need the Spirit’s power. As Jesus says, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance” (2). “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people” (2). Similarly, he says to the church in Smyrna: “I know your afflictions and your poverty” (9). Our prayers and actions don’t reach out to a blind, deaf, or uncaring God, but to one who knows hardship, who knows what it is to be forsaken, afflicted, and deprived. He knows us because he loves us and was willing to be incarnated as one of us—that is evident throughout Revelation: though death is deserved, grace is offered. So, to Ephesus he says: repent and know God again, and you will know everlasting life. To Smyrna: do not be afraid, be faithful even unto death, for nothing can take away the everlasting victorious crown I myself will give you.
Are you doing so much in church that you have lost your love for Jesus? Or perhaps you are facing danger because of Jesus? Take courage, be faithful: he knows.
Lord, I do have an ear, and I do hear what the Spirit says to the Church. Do not stop communicating with me.