When The Lord Comes To Church
John sees Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord, in the midst of seven golden lampstands (1:12-13.) These lampstands are the ‘seven churches’ –the churches in cities of western Asia as listed in 1:11, and also the ‘seven-fold’ church, the whole church of Jesus Christ throughout the ages. The whole church is called to hear the word of Jesus Christ to the whole church.
Jesus Christ walks among the church. He is constantly coming to the church. How does he come? Is it with blessing or is it with judgment? Does he come to unsettle our souls? Are we done? Or will he make us whole?
It is silly sentimentalism that has lost sane sense of the severity of sanctity that sees the coming of the Lord to the church as always something sweet and soothing. ‘Thank you that you always turn up.’ A partial truth, but not perhaps as comforting as it might seem! Jesus Christ the fiery Lord of the church, burning with the fire of love for the holiness of his Father. Before he loves the church, Jesus Christ loves the Father. And he comes to the church to serve the Father, to present the church to Him as a pure and chaste bride.
The Ephesian church, with its rich history in the grace of Jesus Christ, is well known to her Lord. He sees much for which to commend them. Yet there is something so wrong, in even what is commendable, that they risk exclusion from the circle in which Jesus Christ walks. For all that is good, there is a terrible deficit, an intolerable lack. This church, for which Paul had prayed that ‘they would comprehend, with all the saints, the breadth, length, height and depth of, and to know, the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that they may be filled with all the fulness of God’ (Eph. 3:18-19), had forsaken their first love. All that was commendable was coming from another source than their first love, and so their works, outwardly similar were a dark shadow to what they had done at first. If it remains that way, the Lord will come in severity of judgment.
To lead them to recover the first love Jesus the Lord speaks sternly and strongly to them in warning and in promise. They must remember what they had known, repent of the track they are travelling, and so work from love as at first. Should they do so, there is the promise of eating the fruit of life in the Paradise, the walled garden for lovers, of God. When the Lord comes to us, will He find a church of first love glory?
Next week: Revelation 2:8-11