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Friday, May 27, 2016

Dear Church

Jesus's letter to the church at Ephesus is an interesting letter. Oh, you know, the one that Jesus dictated to John in Revelation (Rev 2:1-7). It's an interesting letter because it is ... unexpected.

These seven letters have several common components. They are all headed by an appropriate description of the writer, Jesus. They all end with the exact same sentence: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." There is generally a commendation, a problem, a corrective, and a promise to "he who overcomes". In the letter to Ephesus, Jesus says, "I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary." (Rev 2:2-3) Okay, so let's summarize. They work, they work hard, they don't tolerate evil, they test people who claim to be apostles (but aren't), and they persevere. They have good works, good effort, and good doctrine.

You'd think that this would be one of those churches that doesn't get a warning. Nope! But how could that be? I mean, good works, not tolerating evil, good doctrine ... what else is there?
"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (Rev 2:4)

There has been a debate over the last century or so. Which is more important: orthdoxy or orthopraxy? That is, is it more important to believe the right things or do the right things? As it turns out, it is both ... and neither. Ephesus had both. Oh, and Christ commended them for it. That was good. But believing the right things and doing the right things is not enough. What else is important? What else, if it is lacking, requires repentance? It is love. It is the failure of the prime command -- love God with all your being. It is a failure of the second command -- love one another. It is a motivational breakdown. Because love is the hallmark of Christ's disciples, the reason we serve Him, the thing that gives our doctrine and practice meaning.
"Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place -- unless you repent. (Rev 2:5)
That's Jesus's remedy. Remember, repent, and return. Remember what Christ did for you. Repent of leaving the prime motive -- love. Return to orthodoxy and orthopraxy on the basis of love. Or there will be consequences.

It's my suspicion that anyone who has been a Christian for some length of time runs this risk. It's my suspicion that most of us could benefit from Jesus's remedy: Remember, repent, and return.


Anonymous said...

Began reading your blog posts last Saturday after being given the URL. They are well thought out and well written, I enjoy them very much. In addition to the Logos scripture popup, could you add a dictionary popup? It would be helpful to this Oklahoma farm boy - just sayin'

Stan said...

A dictionary popup. Wasn't aware I could do that. That would be a good idea, given that a LOT of what I write has to do with words and their meanings. (And more than one or two have told me my vocabulary is too big.)

David said...

It must take some real effort to do all the right things for the wrong reason. It seems that orthodoxy and orthopraxy without love would be difficult to self-diagnose. I wonder if that would have to be one of those things that can only be pointed out by another. "I do all the right things, believe all the right things, of course I love God and my fellow believers."

David said...

Welcome to the party, Anonymous. Be ready to get a lot of convicting.

Stan said...

David, the good news is that in this case the One pointing it out ... was certainly and absolutely right.

David said...

Too true. If only He'd write me a letter try let me know.