Imagine for a moment that you visit a local church. This church is known for its:
Hatred of sin
Ability to discern true vs. false teaching
Perseverance in the face of opposition
Rejection of sexual immorality
Now, pause. Would you say this is a healthy church?
I admit, it sure sounds healthy to me. And Jesus did, in fact, commend all these things as good when he dictated a letter to the church in Ephesus in Revelations 2:1-7. But, despite all the good things the church was doing, Jesus had a problem with the church: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (v.4). Jesus considered the problem serious – extremely serious: “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (v.5).
Ouch. It reminds me of I Corinthians 13:1-3: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
Put simply, it isn’t enough to DO. We need to LOVE. What did Jesus say when asked about the greatest commandment? He didn’t give us something to “do” – he told us to LOVE: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
What we do needs to flow out of our love – our love for God and our love for others. When we lose that love, our “doing” is stripped of its deepest value.
So, examine yourself, as I examine myself. How is my love? Examine your church, as I examine my church. How is our love?
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (Revelations 2:7)