About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Loosing Your Church


The Apostle John had a special relationship with Jesus.  In John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, and 21:20 we read that John was the disciple whom Jesus loved.  I do not think that Jesus favoured one person over another, but it appears that John and Jesus did have character traits that created a special bond of friendship.  Most of us have that special friend and it looks like Jesus was no exception. 


John was the last of the original apostles to die.  He penned his gospel account, three letters, and the book of Revelation somewhere between 85 and 95 A. D..  We learn from Christian literature written in the second century that John was either the lead elder or one of the elders of the community of believers in Ephesus.        


What John wrote in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, records seven messages from Jesus directed to seven churches in seven cities.  The first message must have severely impacted John since it was directed to those he cared for in Ephesus.  He must have felt good after hearing Jesus' encouraging words.  Revelation 2:2 and 3 says:

"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary." 

John's warm-hearted encouraged feelings probably quickly dissipated because of what Jesus said next.  Revelation 2:4 and 5 state:

"Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." 

I have often wondered how John felt after hearing Jesus criticise those he led.  John, the disciple whom He loved, was warned that those he cared for would lose their lampstand if they did not repent of lost love for Jesus and then rekindle their first love for Him.  According to Revelation 1:20 the word "lampstand" is in reference to church.  I think that the thought of the potential loss of the church in Ephesus would have devastated John. 

Today's ecclesiastical world is dotted with churches that have lost their first love for Jesus.  What remains is just a shell of a church, and a shell of a church is not a church.  It's just our fallen human nature.  Whether in marriage or any other relationship, we tend to lose our first love.  We drift into routine, boredom, and a yawning indifference.  When church becomes routine, it loses its reason to exist.  When church becomes steeped in humanistic tradition, it loses its Holy Spirit lit lampstand and ceases to be.        

Jesus' message to those John cared for must have disturbed John immensely, as it would for any pastor today who cares for God's people.  For this reason, the warning to the church at Ephesus is a warning for our churches today.  Don't allow your first love for Jesus to dissipate into routine and traditionalism, and if it does, repent, and return to your first love, lest you lose your church.     

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