“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. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 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.” Revelation 2:2-5.
What struck me with this verse is if you looked at the church in Ephesus from the outside it would look like they are doing an awesome job. They are performing good works. They are not standing for wickedness and are opposing false teachers. They have persevered in the works they do for the Lord and have not grown weary.The problem was they were going through the motions. They forgot their first love. They forgot God.
How often does this happen in my own life? On the outside I am doing an excellent job serving the church and putting on a good appearance, but if you look inside my heart you will see that I forgot God. That my motives are all wrong. That I am in fact serving myself or serving other people. I am more concerned about my reputation and checking things off my checklist than I am about God.
By doing these things I am no different than a Pharisee. There is no life in living this way. If we are not careful and if we live like this we will miss out on the life God had in store for us. We will miss out on the greatest gift of all, relationship with Him.
God said if the Church in Ephesus did not repent that He would have to remove their lamp stand. Why? Because God would no longer be receiving the glory. Rather we would be getting the glory instead of God. As Christians God works through our lives to bring Himself glory. He wants to use us to point people to Him. He wants people brought to Him, because only in Him can people be saved. We cannot save anyone.
God had a similar purpose for Israel. He blessed their nation, because He wanted to use them to prove to the world there was no other God besides Him. When that little nation in the middle east was defeating some of the world’s great empires and was amassing enormous amounts of wealth, people had to be wondering how they were doing it. When the world witnessed it they gave God the glory. We see that when the Queen of Sheba gives God the glory after visiting Solomon. Israel was pointing people to the God who saves.
Later in Israel’s history God was not able to deliver them from their enemies the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Instead He had to hand them over. Why? Because if God saved them who would get the credit? Baal? Molech? If God delivered Israel, He would be pointing people to other gods and thus harming people, so He had to give Israel over into captivity.
The same is true for us. God will remove our lamp stand if we are not pointing people to Christ. If we are pointing people to ourselves or other people, we are not fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. We are not proving to the world that Jesus Christ came and died and was resurrected. Our lives must be a testimony for that. Or for the sake of the Gospel of Reconciliation God will remove our lamp stand.
Father, we repent of all the times we have forgotten Christ as our first love. We repent of loving the things you have given us more than Christ. Time after time we seek our own glory more than we seek your glory. We trust that when we are faithful to repent you will heal us and give us opportunity to be a light for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.