The book of Revelation is one of those books that get people in a theological tizzy..."What does this symbol mean?", or 'Who could that be talking about"?
It's enough to cause us to stay away entirely!
Yet, we have to remember that it IS in the Bible, which means it IS the Word of God, and He DID inspire John to write it...so we should at least be aware of it.
Besides, in the 1st 3 chapters, there's a lot of "low-hanging fruit"--teaching that is easy for us to grasp and apply today.
John writes 7 'letters' to 7 influential churches in Asia Minor...and they are important for us to read. These letters do not originate with John, but come in a vision from the Risen Lord Jesus himself!
In Revelation 2:1-7, he writes to the Church in Ephesus. In vv. 2 and 3, He notes all the good things they've done. This church stood for purity of belief, obedience to the teachings of the Word, and utmost allegiance to Jesus. They openly defied the mindset of their culture, which was very much an 'anything goes' culture. They stood for doctrinal purity--and opposed groups that would come in--like the Nicolaitans (v.6)--who were teaching that one could be a Christian and live a Biblically immoral life at the same time.
Yet, this very commitment to 'doctrinal purity' led them to over-correct. They lost the most important thing about thier faith: Their intimate connection to Jesus Christ! He said that they had "Lost [their] first love".(v.4) They had become so 'rigidly committed to the Truth' and to the correct doctrines (ie, beliefs) that they had become...'religious' more than faitful. They were functioning now out of judgment, not out of love, grace, and mercy.
There are many Christians...and many churches...that struggle with this today. We sometimes get so committed to what we understand to be 'the teaching of the Word' that we forget that our ultimate aim is to Love God, follow Jesus, and live by the power of the Holy Spirit. WE have become like the church in Ephesus--more 'religion' than personal 'relationship' with Jesus Christ.
The bottom line: We've so intellectualized our faith that it's become a set up beliefs...little more. The personal connection to Jesus is there, from a technical theological standpoint, but the close, intimate, loving relationship with Him--through which we are made more like Him--is missing.
What's the answer? Same as it was for them: "REMEMBER the height from which you have fallen, REPENT (turn back to Me), and DO the things you did at first" (v. 5)
WE--us--today...need to Remember what it was like when we first understood about our sin, our need and desperation, and the grace and loving self-sacrifice of Jesus, which gave us new life! WE need to remember what that close connection was like, how new and life-changing it was, how committed we were to do anything He asked, by faith!
WE, today, need to REPENT--to admit our sin, our 'religiosity' and our callousness to what really matters to Him. WE need to turn back to become people of grace, mercy, and love--of Him and of others. WE need to embrace not only the DOCTRINES of the faith (which we absolutely need), but also the passion and love of Jesus--which drives and compells us to be more like Him.
WE, today, need to DO the things we did at first. We prayed all the time, we devoured the Word of God, we looked forward to going to church, enthusiastically participating. We told others about Him, and we dedicated all of our lives to Him.
Are YOU infected with the 'religious spirit', like the church in Ephesus? If so, you now know what to do...DO IT!
Seeking pure devotion to Him,