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To most people the letters to the 7 churches in the book of Revelation seem… threatening. Peter writes in 1 Pe 1:13, “…fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Where’s the GRACE Peter’s referring to?
Jesus gives John these letters. To be read in each church. Each letter opens with a picture of Jesus and closes with a promise. Pictures and promises – to build their faith – and ours, for the letters are written to all who have an ear to hear. And they are Good News!
The first letter, found in Rev 2:1-7, is to the church at Ephesus. The picture? Jesus holding seven stars in his right hand, walking among seven Golden lampstands. He holds us firmly in His grip no matter how dysfunctional we might be, and walks among us – that’s comforting!
He knows their toil and perseverance. They do not tolerate evil men, false apostles and Nicolatians. They have their perseverance and their endurance. BUT, there is a problem.
Remember He says, from where they have fallen. Repent – Turn; make a change of direction. Do the deeds they did at first. Remember – repent – do. Or He will remove their lamp stand. Hmmm.
We are in His Kingdom by His blood, by His grace, not our works or our performance! Same with those Ephesians. So why is Jesus referring to their labors and toiling several times? I suggest it is because they were working too hard. To prove themselves worthy?
well their efforts were wearing them out.
Jesus saw THEIR perseverance – there’s nothing wrong with perseverance if we are talking about the kind that comes from Jesus that bears good fruit. But the toilsome perseverance of the Ephesians was THEIRS, not His. So Jesus just says, “I see you.” He doesn’t complement their perseverance.
Those burnt out Ephesians – exhausted. Wondering what’s wrong. Aren’t they doing all the right things, touching all the bases, ticking off all the boxes – and it’s just not working. Sound familiar perhaps?
“What is wrong?” they cry – and Jesus tells them: they have left their first love.
What’s that about? We’ll find out – next time. Until then, remember, we are kept by grace, not performance. Dwell on that – and COME ALIVE!
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