06-11-17 Let Them Hear: Ephesus

I made the mistake of wishing someone a happy Summer the other day in a store, and he tersely corrected me that Summer doesn’t start until Tuesday, June 20.  So please ignore the Condition 90 temperatures and high humidity that we’ve been experiencing this week, and remind yourself that we’re still just enjoying a perky Spring...

In our service this week, we let people know that for Father’s Day on the 18th, we will be providing the opportunity for people to share a testimony about their own fathers (or important father-figures) -- particularly about how God has used them over the years to bring us to where we’re at now in our relationship with the Lord.  The simple fact is that for many people (for good or for ill), their relationship with God tends to naturally mirror their relationship with their parents -- especially their fathers.  People with strict, domineering fathers tend to picture a strict, domineering God; people with kind, loving fathers tend to picture a kind, loving God; people with no relationship with their fathers tend to have a hard time developing a genuine relationship with God at all; etc.  When you unpack that, it puts an amazing responsibility on the shoulders of Dads like me -- or of any adults who have the opportunity and the blessing of having children in their lives to make a connection with.

In our message this week, we began a new series, looking at the mini-letters written by Jesus in the early chapters of Revelation to the seven churches of Asia Minor (i.e.; Turkey). 

Then again, when you really think about it, it’s not really a new series at all.  We began way back in Advent looking at the birth of Christ, then moved on to walking through the life and ministry of Christ leading up to Resurrection Sunday, and then discussed the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit after that leading up to Pentecost.  So it just makes sense to talk about how the Church that Jesus created and the Spirit in-fills should live out its essential church-ness... and there’s no clearer snapshot of that in Scripture than the seven churches addressed in Revelation.

Take the first one, Ephesus.  That church was awesome -- they had stood against false teachings, persevered against opposition, and otherwise shown themselves to be a rock-solid church in the midst of a culture focused on appearances, material success, and self-serving spirituality (kinda like our own culture today, actually).  And yet, Jesus warned them that though the gates of Hades hadn’t prevailed against them, the pillars of Heaven may very well end up destroying them unless they repented.

And what did they need to repent of?  They’d forgotten to be in love with God.  Oh, they did all of the right things, but they had no deep, sincere, personal connection with the God whom they’d so correctly served.  Remember, in the “Greatest Commandment,” Jesus hadn’t told us to “intellectually assent to truth with your whole brain,” but rather to “love the Lord with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength.”  You can’t just go through the motions -- even the right motions -- and think that it’s enough (any more than you can merely haunt your own marriage and think that you’re showing genuine love for your spouse).  God hasn’t just saved you.  He’s wooing you, and He wants you to be in love with Him like He’s in love with you.

All of that was important enough to Jesus for Him to give this strong a warning to Ephesus (and don’t even get me started on verses like Isaiah 29:13-14 or Jeremiah 12:2-3). 

How important is being in love with God to you today?