I enjoy watch online content providers related to my interests ranging from Bible teaching to how to jet a carburetor and a few other areas in between. It is frustrating to me when a provider presents a title screen to get my attention but fails to deliver on the promise. It is not just click bait, but just about every other area of our lives. It is hard to take anyone seriously today. It does not matter if it is the evening news, an unknown caller, a sales pitch, and especially our politicians. I would not argue that we are living in an era of “Fake News” happening on both sides of the aisle and in just about every area of our lives.
The problem arises for followers of Jesus when this cynicism of everything creeps into our understanding of our Creator. We all know the daily battling of attempting to maintain a Biblical perspective in a world that has gone off the rails. The danger we face in our modern castles is that we wall God out of our lives as well resulting in a life focused on ourselves and our pleasure.
I have been spending a great deal of time studying the seven churches in Revelation. The thing that keeps slapping me across the face is that God is dead serious about His expectations of me. This past Sunday we looked at the local congregation in the city of Ephesus. Jesus’ commendation of these followers is just impressive. These believers seemed to be running in stride with the Lord by doing the hard labor of ministry, in their commitment to not only knowing Biblical truth but applying it, and by refusing to give up! Yet Jesus’ x-ray perspective reveals a deadly condition beneath a healthy exterior. Jesus responds, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4) His diagnosis reveals that they stopped taking Him seriously. Yes, they were practicing the traditions of the faith, yes they knew the truth of the faith and yes they were working sacrificially doing ministry. But the vibrant healthy exterior hid a dangerous heart condition within, they had drifted from their Lord. They were simply going through the motions.
You might be tempted to consider a message like this from the Savior as a curse, but it was truly a blessing. It reminds us that God is not out to get even with us. No, He is working to transform us to be like Him. Yes, there would be consequences for failing to amend their behavior, but Jesus offers the diagnosis with a prescription. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5) His diagnoses reminds us of our need to take our Lord seriously. He reminds us to return to those relationship building practices that we could not get enough of in the early days of our relationship. He is reminding us to take Him seriously.
So let me encourage you to take a few minutes to travel back to those first days of faith. It does not matter if it was when you first came to the Lord or after a more recent season of renewal. What was it that you could not get enough of? Reading your Bible, the daily devotional times each morning, hanging out with other believers and studying together or the wonder of corporate worship?
If you are wanting to take Jesus seriously, then listen to what He promises to those who take Him seriously. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” ( Revelation 2:7)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson