Over the next few posts, I want to look at what is commonly referred to as the Seven Letters to the Churches in the book of Revelation. I want to preface with a few things before we begin.
First, we are not going to look at the prophetic or even the apocalyptic nature of the book of Revelation. We could spend time going into issues of pre, mid, or post tribulation. We could look at the different thoughts on dispensationalism or the dating of the book, but that is not going to be our focus. There is a time and place for that, but it is not here. Instead, we are going to bring these books to where you and I live most of our lives. I asked myself a question as my daughter was asking me questions about Revelation and that was what do I or can I do with these letters? I noticed over and over Jesus saying, “Anyone who has an ear should hear what the Spirit says to the churches” so I thought it best to listen.
Secondly, each church was to read what was said to the other churches. So you could read and say, “Jesus likes what we are doing but thinks we should improve here or there. Oh, look what the brothers and sisters in XXXX are being told. Let’s do or not do that.” We, in the same way, should use the letters as a mirror and be honest about our situation.
Finally, we are not going to look at the book as a whole. I know to some that is near blasphemy but just chill and take a walk with me. I would like us to look at these letters and see what can we do with them and how can we apply what Jesus was saying. I believe that in each address made to the individual church there is something we can learn and apply to our lives. The post will be somewhat terse but for our purposes, I think it will suffice. I believe we can all learn a lot from what the Spirit had/has to say. So this will serve as the introduction and as the saying goes “On with the show!”
The Letter to the Church in Ephesus in a Nutshell:
Jesus tells John to write to the church in Ephesus and tell them He likes that they are strong in their theology. They are doing well to test those who say they are apostles (think important in the church). Jesus likes that they do not tolerate evil and that they hate the practices of the Nicolaitans. However, they have lost their love. For all they have going for them Jesus says He will take away their lampstand because they have lost their love.
We can “do” all the right things but we must do them from a place of love. We cannot grow cold in our devotion to the truth even though it is easy to do. Things like taking care of the sick, poor, impoverished, those in prison, and so on are of extreme importance. We cannot stop caring for those in need. Right now there is a big debate going on about Syrian refugees, and while I am not going to tell you what I think (partly because I am still working through my thoughts) we should take the time to examine what Jesus said about these types of things. It is also the Christmas season so we have people asking for money, toys, and food on nearly every corner. What did Jesus say about that?
The bigger questions do the hurting that exist in the world hurt you, and does the suffering of your brothers and sisters in Christ make you wonder what you should do? I know that not everyone can do everything. Sometimes you are the one in need I get that. But can you do something? Do you have it in you to do something for those who are hurting? Can you give time, money, or prayer?
Galatians 6:9 – So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
John 13:35 – By this all people will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.
There are a lot of other Scriptures about this topic, but these two are a good start. Do good, and love. Jesus said we are to love God and love our neighbor. Yes be theologically sound (we’ll talk about that in another letter) but don’t forget it is God’s goodness that draws men to repentance. don’t become so hard with the truth that you kill those who need help.To put it another way, don’t Bible thump. It is a fine line that requires much prayer, much studying, and much love.
Remember Jesus loved that the church in Ephesus was tight in their theology, but He said He would shut the church down because they forgot to love.
Just a thought,