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The Church – Called to Love

Over the course of the next year I will be writing a book about the church. This series of blogs about the seven churches will serve as a precursor for my manuscript. I look forward to hearing your comments along the way!

Matthew 16:18 records Jesus telling the disciples that He will build His church. The word “church” comes from a Greek word meaning “an assembly of people called out for a purpose.”

The church is a faith community called out for a divinely expressed purpose; namely, “to make disciples.”

A revelation

The book of Revelation gives special emphasis to seven churches in modern-day Turkey. The seven Asian churches represent the local church in every age and every country.

A light to the world

John the Revelator received a vision of seven golden lampstands and seven stars. (Revelation 1:12, 16) Jesus, standing among the lampstands, tells him the lampstands represent seven churches.

The church is the light-bearer in a darkened world.”

Revelation 2:1-7

“‘Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

‘I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.’”

called to love

Ancient Ephesus

Located on the western coast of Asia Minor, at the convergence of three highways from the north, east, and south, Ephesus was a trade center in the region.

The city of Ephesus was also the worship center for the fertility goddess “Artemis” (Greece) or “Diana” (Rome).

Ephesians were cosmopolitan and transient, living in a city with a history of cultural-political change.

Enduring hardship

The Ephesian church is considered founded by Aquila, Priscilla, and later Paul.

The believers had toiled to the point of exhaustion and dealt with hostility from a society at odds with their faith. Challenges included disbelieving Jews (Acts 19:9), the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:16), and a mob stirred up by Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 19:29).

Loving truth

Early in the church’s formation, Paul commended the members for loving each other, “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you” (Eph 1:15, 16).

Revelation records the church being commended for having a low tolerance for false teachers. Their quest, however, for truth and holiness left them without love for God and neighbor. They lost a quality they first possessed, divine love. They became overly critical of others.

Recognizing disciples

Jesus shares, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

Love for others is an important characteristic of followers of Jesus.

The church is called to love.”

Working for God

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work.” The Ephesian church was a busy church, actively serving God in various ways.

The church had a distrust of false doctrine and a desire to engage in works of faith. Unfortunately, they allowed the fresh glow of love for God and one another to fade.

The message today

Are you overly critical of others? Have you made yourself busy “doing” things for God? Have you forgotten to abide in Him?

Be intentional about abiding in Jesus. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” (John 15:5)

Bearing godly fruit

As you meditate on God’s word, spend time in prayer, and encourage fellow believers, you are abiding in Jesus. Holy Spirit fruit will then be evident.

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22, 23).

The promise

If a community of believers return to their first love they inherit eternal life. By displaying love for God and love for one another there is hope of a great reward, God and followers of Jesus restored to perfect love and fellowship.

The challenge

Abide in Jesus! Ask Him to ripen the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Display God’s love to the world so that others will turn to Him.

How can you show love to God and others?  Share your comments below.

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