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Revelation blog post 8: Get back!

June 29, 2014

  “Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged” – The Beatles – Get back (from the album ‘Let it be’)

So Revelation is a letter from God via John to 7 churches.

But now we are reminded that the 7 churches are not a nondescript group. Each church fellowship is known to God. All their strengths and weaknesses.

So now begins the specific. Messages to each of the seven churches. And the messages to be delivered are as different as the churches themselves.

First up Ephesus.

As we find with many of the New Testament letters the form, unlike today, is to put the details of the sender at the top (although I suppose letterhead has a similar role). From Paul the apostle, from Paul and Silas etc.

Makes a big difference that letter head. It might tell you if there is good news, or bad news. Whether there is money coming or money to pay. Whether it is a love letter or hate mail. From a dear friend or someone you would rather avoid.

Maybe you are most impressed by the credentials of the writer, the letters that appear after their name. Maybe as they slit the envelope in the church office at Ephesus they thought “a letter from John”.

“These are the words of him who holds the seven stars and walks among the seven lamp stands”.

Yes this is from Jesus. No less. Now his are the greatest credentials. And he’s got something to say.

We’ve already had it explained. The stars are the angels of the churches. The lamp stands are the churches. Now that’s security. That’s perspective. To know that our churches are held in the hands of Jesus. The first and last. The risen one!

Jesus is hands on with the church!

And he walks among us. With us. He is there among us as we meet. His presence is the difference, the key.

He’s there. He holds us. He walks with us. He sees.

“I know your deeds, your hard work. You keep going!”

Do we ever wonder does anyone care what we do? Do the things you and I do go unnoticed? Jesus says “I know. I notice.”

Good news.

“You have got no time for wicked men. You can sort out the false apostles. You keep going. You’ve suffered for me. And you don’t grow tired of doing it all.”

It’s all good stuff isn’t it? A church that works hard and puts up with no nonsense. That keeps going even when the going is tough. Those are the sort of qualities we’d like to see in our churches.

The Ephesians are enjoying the letter. Imagine that. Jesus is so pleased with them he’s writing to them especially to tell them.

BUT!

There is a downside. Jesus knows the stuff they are doing. He lists it but doesn’t apparently say any more on the subject.

“But I have THIS against you. ”

Now those are the sort of words that are going to make your knees knock and produce that sinking feeling in your stomach. “The first and the last has got something against us. We’re in for it.”

“You have lost the love you first had.”

First love. Any of you old marrieds remember that? Do any of you young marrieds remember that?!

At one time the Ephesians were just so full of love for Jesus. But somewhere along the way they’ve lost it. They are doing loads of stuff for Jesus. They are even persevering in the face of difficulty. It’s all great, but it’s loveless.

Maybe their motive for all they do is about duty. But Jesus says it should be about love.

Is your Christian life primarily about obedience? Is it about earning God’s favour. We heard it loud and clear in John’s gospel. You CANNOT earn God’s favour.

Out motivation is about love. Because he loved us first. To the point of death. He died our death.

“Look back” says Jesus. “Look at what you were like. You are not on those heights now. It was a love relationship they had back then”

“Repent. Go back and live that way again. ”

“Because if you don’t there’s a cost. I’m going to remove your lamp stand.”

In other words the church at Ephesus would be no more. Snuffed out by Jesus. That is a scary thought that we can be busy churches, admirable churches, but dead churches because the love of Jesus has been lost.

What do you and I need to do when faced with this challenge? How will we get back?

They are great on dealing with false doctrine but love is all they need. Love Jesus and the rest will follow.

“Are you listening? If you’ve got ears them you can. God’s Holy Spirit is speaking to you. You can be a winner.”

A tree of life awaits you. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the tree of life but now it’s an open invitation. Come and eat in Paradise.

There is hope for Ephesus.

You got ears? Get back!

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