“Where’s the Evidence”
Part of our responsibility as a church that pursues authenticity, relationships and outreach is our ability to read Scripture, identify warnings and encouragement that we will not only hear but heed. There is a difference between agreeing with Scripture and applying Scripture.
In the book of Revelation we find in the second chapter seven letters written from Jesus to seven different churches. In each letter to the churches, there is a unique relationship between the problems they faced spiritually and the set of circumstances they faced locally. These specific conditions presented certain temptations and problems that help inform these individual letters. These churches are located in Asia Minor. This is known as Anatolia, Asian Turkey. It is a large peninsula in West Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. These churches shared major travel routes they are in close proximity with one another.
In these letters Jesus addresses the spiritual condition of each church. With respect to Ephesus, we are talking about an influential commercial and cultural center. It was located only three miles from the coast and was the ‘Supreme Metropolis of Asia’. The city was the main worship center of the goddess Artemis (also known as Diana). Her temple is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
In their letter, we see the church in Ephesus praised for…
- hard work
- not tolerating sinful behavior
- demanding truth and integrity from their leaders
- rejecting false teachers when proven false
- perseverance despite having to endure hardships
Something happened in the course of history in the Ephesian church. Tragically, they lost their identity: they left their first love. This heart-breaking realization is found in Revelation 2:4.
‘The love you had at first’ which had waned, was their love for another. When you think back to the book of Ephesians written by Paul, we see that Paul had taught this church that their health as the body of Christ was dependent on ‘speaking the truth in love.’ But it seems that the key qualification – ‘in love’ – had been overlooked in their zealous defense of the truth. There is a necessary union between truth and love for every follower of Jesus Christ. Here’s the bottom line: : when the truth of the gospel truly grasps our hearts, love for others must result. Your love for God means you are loving people. Your vertical relationship with God should absolutely impact every one of your horizontal relationships.
This letter begs us to consider this question: where is the evidence of your first love?
Your love for Jesus that we experience when you first believed, experience forgiveness, the promise of a new life, and the desire to put God first in your priorities – where is the evidence of that love? How does it show up in your life today? This letter begs us to consider where the evidence is of our first love and then further, repent and do the things you did at first.
Repent means to change the mind or purposes, to change one’s decision. The verb repent here in Revelation is in the aorist tense which may look at a single, decisive act. This type of repentance includes confession of sin with a view to stopping the bad behavior so it can be replaced with what was right.
So, where’s the evidence of your first love? Where’s the evidence in your life of your first love of Jesus Christ?
Can we find evidence in your finances?
Can we find evidence in your day-to-day calendar?
Can we find evidence in your relationships?
Until next time,
PS: Listen to our study “You’ve Got Mail” where we study the Letter to Ephesus in detail here.