I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My Name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.
At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, Jesus wrote love Letters to seven churches. Their congregations were beloved to Him, but each one faced challenges. So He took the time to call out their strengths, their weaknesses, and how to fix them. Even more, He promised them great rewards if they overcame the temptations of 'An evil and adulterous generation' (Matthew 12:39).
Consider two Scriptures: 1. 'For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights' (Proverbs 3:12). Therein, corrections from love are blessings.
2. 'Bad company corrupts good character' (1 Corinthians 15:33). Undeniably, the company we keep affects us. Churches can lead or mislead. All of them need godly reflection and occasional redirection.
God's Word is personal. Therein, we must dig deep and ask our Lord which of these Letters are written to us. Then we must apply the remedy He so patiently offers.
The Loveless Church in Ephesus appeared to be a center of righteousness. Its people worked hard, persevered under pressure and tolerated no evil within their congregation. Even so, they grew rigid in the righteousness of their rules. Today, we might call them Old Testament Christians: those who follow the Letter of God's Law, but forget Its Heart--which is love.*
Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day, they 'Neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith' (Matthew 23:23).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: 'The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth' (John 4:23), as opposed to rules and walls; the hour when His church will unite in one purpose: to Love God first. You're called to lead the way.
If you love God first, you can't help but love your neighbors next, because God made them. And if they don't know they're loved, if they don't know their destiny, you have some very good news to share. Because sooner or later, when they witness your kindness and joy, they will ask the Reason for the Hope you carry.
Rigidly ruled Christians are called to repent, which requires a turn, which requires flexibility, which requires a soft heart, which lies right below the surface of its calcification. You can't force them to turn, but you can encourage them by showing the joy of freedom.
To Be Continued...
* Scriptures to consider regarding the relationship of God's Law and God's grace: how Jesus reconciled and fulfilled them: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=law+grace&qs_version=NKJV
'The Church of Ephesus' (short article): http://www.gotquestions.org/church-in-ephesus.html
Prior AMTC Devotion on The Loveless Church: http://www.amtcdevotions.com/which-church-are-you-part-3-the-loveless-church
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the The Call To Overcome series.