The Risen Savior addresses the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation offering warnings, insights and needed instruction. In chapter 2 verses 1-7 he shares a direct yet somewhat confusing assessment of the congregation at Ephesus. Eugene Peterson translates v 2-4 this way:
– I see that you have done, your hard, hard work and your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause and you never wear out.
– But… you walked away from your love… why?
This was an admirable church. They were dedicated, courageous and tireless as they confronted and fought those who sought to sidetrack the early church. They did good stuff, meaningful stuff, important stuff, needed stuff… Yet the risen Savior had a problem with them. They were so intent on getting things right and weeding out the bad guys that lost sight of their overall purpose. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit were among the missing in this hardworking congregation and due to their absence the church lost it’s way. The enthusiasm of this church was nonexistent and love was in the short supply. Church was not a place of pleasant fellowship and communion and worship with the almighty. It had become a war room with strategy sessions concerning how they were going to attack the opposition. This is an admirable goal for any church. To make sure God is worshipped and acknowledged with the respect and awe he deserves. But don’t lose your heart and soul in the process… Jesus!
In the heat of the battle it is possible to lose sight of our purpose to be positive examples of God’s redeeming power and models of his grace, mercy, and love. We have a responsibility to be enthusiastic about being salt and light in bland, dark and often unhealthy world. We will have our share of battles to fight in our struggle to make this world aware of it’s need for God. But we don’t need to neglect cultivating and exercising the fruit of His spirit in our own lives.
Please practice courage, dedication, and zeal for the truth of the Gospel. But don’t forget:
– To love others
– To be joyful
– To be a peaceful people
– To practice patience (especially with the ones who try our patience)
– To be kind
– To be good
– To live a life of faith
– To be gentle
– And to be self controlled when you think you are about to lose it!
Poplar Springs… Thank you for being a church that get’s it right! Please bear with your pastor and fellow congregants when we don’t.