Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. 3 I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”
First thing that jumps out at me is in v.1, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus…”. The letter isn’t addressed to a person but an angel, likely a guardian angel of the church in Ephesus. Other parts of the New Testament have mentioned angels of specific cities which battle the evil powers in the heavenly realms, but this is the first time I can recall mention of an angel for a specific church. Somehow I find this a comforting thought, the idea that Rejoice Lutheran Church which I serve has a guardian angel. What a blessing it would be for the Lord to reveal this angel to me. I’ve only seen angels a few times in my life so it would be a real treat.
The second thing I notice here is in v.4 “…you have abandoned the love you had at first…”. Of what love is the passage referring? I could be wrong here, but seems like the intolerance for “evildoers” (v.2) has gotten out of hand. It’s important for Christians to recognize the difference between a person’s practices and the person him/herself. At our best the church is known for love, especially love for people. Even people who do wrong. None of us is without sin, right? When condemnation of a practice becomes condemnation of the practitioner we have gotten off track. Our main purpose is to share life with Jesus with others. When we lead with a wagging finger calling out other peoples sins we won’t get far. I’m thinking this is what had happened in Ephesus.
A church without love is no longer the church.
Love is what draws people to the Lord. Love is the thing people most need in our world. Out of love can come life-change for the better, for sure, but love has to be the starting point. Lord teach us never to forget our first love. Amen.