As we continue looking at the church in Ephesus, the 1st letter to the 7 churches in Revelation, we see things start out relatively positive. In the face of all the issues from yesterday, we find…
Although the Christians in Ephesus faced persecution and pain for failing to join the parade of sin—we find Jesus focuses first on the:
Strength of the Church –(Revelation 2:1-3, 6) “To the angel[f] of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 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. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary… 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Ephesus sounds like a pretty good church. Jesus is complimentary of this church—their perseverance, endurance, intolerant of wickedness, testing what people say by scripture, and later they even hate the practices of the Nicolaitans who were a quasi-Christian sect. The Nicolaitans thought they figured out how to march in the parade of sin and still claim salvation of Christ. They had embraced Greek philosophy thought the body was evil, the soul was supreme and so the body could be used to join in all the fun of the Ephesus cult worship since it was already tainted, but the Christians had endured so far, but there was that lingering fear, that maybe avoiding sin wasn’t really worth it. Was Jesus and his way enough? Maybe you’ve wrestled with the same though: the church says “NO” to everything, rules and regulations, like a fence boxing me in. Christian radio host Kendra Smiley on her show shared an interesting governmental study that was published. Don’t get mad, but the government spent money to study children’s playgrounds. They actually found something interesting. When a playground has a fence, the kid’s play all the way to the edge, sometimes on the actual fence itself. When there is no fence around the perimeter, children naturally were observed playing almost exclusively in the middle of the playground. They never used the full confines of what they were given. The fence actually provided freedom. Here me out, it is the same thing with God’s law, not meant to box you in, but to allow you to live freely.
James wrote eloquently about the “perfect law which gives freedom.” The results of living without any parameters, fencing, sounds like freedom, but actually leaves us with less. Think about it, God creates lots of things and then puts them within a fence to protect you—sex outside of marriage leading to betrayal, brokenness, and division. Money is a great pleasure when used within the fence—but outside it becomes an idol, a quick high ultimately a hopeless end, we can keep scratching until we bleed, pushing until the dam breaks. When you choose to persevere in Christ, you aren’t choosing a lesser life (that is what the world whispers), but you get at chance to really start living!