Friday, October 17, 2008

lacking love

The church in Ephesus was surely known for its zeal for righteousness and truth, and even for God. It was a church which believed in the truth God has revealed in Scripture and in Jesus. And it believed in judging error both in what people believed and what people practiced.

Though Christ commended this, there was one problem which was threatening its very existence as a church. This church had left its first love. Somehow other things became more important than that. Somehow God was not loved with the pure, ardent devotion which real love involves. We are called in the first and greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. The words in Revelation suggest that they left this love behind, something they did. But involved in that was likely the losing sight of God's holy love for them in Jesus. They had lost sight of the great love of God in Jesus. They were no longer acting in this love.

This is a danger for all of us in Jesus. It's not like if we do love that what else we do doesn't matter. Read on in the letters to the seven churches and you'll see other churches were in danger of no longer being a church because of other problems they weren't dealing with. But love is the first and greatest commandment. If we lack this love for God and for our neighbor, then anything else we do has a hollow ring to God.

I see zealous Christians who talk about the lack of truth and holiness in the church, and often seem to hold other Christians at arm's length. They talk about other Christians and churches derisively. I wonder if whether we love or not shows up in how we look at others and what we say about them. Those who know this deep, deep love of Jesus in their own life, will not throw stones at others who may be failing.

This must have been quite a shock to the church at Ephesus, to hear Christ threaten their very existence as a church over their lack of love. Even calling their love into question must have been a shock to them. But it was meant to be a wake up call for them, and can be for us as well. Do we really love Jesus? Those were life changing questions for Peter. And such a question is for us, as well. And what does such love involve? Yes, doing what God says, but there's more to it than that, because though the church at Ephesus was doing much of that, they were no longer doing what they had done out of love for Christ. God wanted that. A good question for me today, how have I departed from my first love? And why? Have I lost sight of God's love for us, for me- in Jesus? What do I no longer do that I used to do out of that love?

Any thoughts here?


donnjohnson said...

So true Ted. Well written. I loved the phrase used by the President of Fuller Seminary who said we must practice "convicted civility" which marries our deepest convictions to the civility of constant love and respect for those with whom we disagree.

Anonymous said...

i was just reading in romans 15 today. and this reminds me of verse 7...

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks so much. I love that phrase as well. Thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, What an important passage and a great one to bring up here.