Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Letter For Leaders: Ephesus

We are looking at the church in Ephesus, as it receives a letter from the Holy Spirit, commending it for certain things and warning it about other things.

Just what you'd expect the Spirit to do, right? This is the pattern of God's love language: Here are the ways you are offending Me, for it violates our covenant or a specific injunction I already made clear to you; you must do these certain behaviors, mainly repentance and its fruits, to show Me you are willing to turn away from the offense; if you choose to insist and persist in sin, these consequences will arrive at your door.  I exercise My love first, calling your heart to turn from what is a barrier between you and me. I then exercise My judgement if you fall on your knees to your idol, and not on your knees to Me.

So, as we saw earlier, the Spirit commends this church for:

"I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."

I asked in an earlier blog what God considers "good works." If we follow Jesus, then let's follow Jesus! What does He say about His good works?

He heals the one man who had been an invalid for a long time--thirty-eight years.  He could not get down the Pool of Siloam in time to be healed; he was there along with many other people who were unable to move as well: "the blind, the lame, the paralyzed."  Wow.  What a cruel situation:  The very people who want to be healed had been left there by whoever brought them to the pool's edge.  But the blind couldn't see the water stirring; the lame couldn't move fast enough and the paralyzed couldn't move at all.  Where were the people that brought them?  Did they "park" them at the pool's edge, and hope that someone would show up in time?  Or would they run back to help?  At least, they had some hope that the person who brought them would help them.  

But this man had no one to help him; so, day after day, his hope was high in the morning: Maybe today is the day!  By the day's end, it set with the sun:  Another day.  Oh well.

But Jesus brought hope to this one man.  That is Jesus' way:  to zero in on those who are hopeless, friendless, fatherless.  Jesus helped him; He was there in time.  Not for the stirring of the water but for the moment when Heaven saw this man's loneliness and touched him with a power greater than all the pools of Siloam could muster. 

Of course, the authorities were furious, for their version of the Sabbath had been violated.  What did Jesus say?  "In his defense Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.'”  (John 5:17) 

He continues:  "Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.'" (John 5:19-20)

Jesus says in John 6:38-40: "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Jesus says in John 12:49-50: "For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Do you see the operating definition of "good works"? How do we, in a leadership role, persevere as we serve the Lord?  How do we discern false teaching and those who propagate such teachings?  How do we labor and not grow weary? 

Do only what the Holy Spirit directs you to do.  

Did Jesus run around and heal everyone at the Pool of Siloam?

Did Jesus work day in and day out, never resting?  Never leaving the crowds behind?  Never taking time with just the disciples to regroup and refresh?  Feeling guilty when the need was overwhelming but He took time away with His Father?

Why do we serve Him, but try to recast Christian service as going 24/7, not taking breaks and always pursuing the next act of service without rest or respite? 

Why do we burn out, and yet Jesus did not?

He only did what His Father directed Him to do.  

Why do we burn out, and yet Jesus' disciples and Paul did not?

They only did what the Holy Spirit directed them to do.  

In Ephesus, their sin was one of forgetting "their first love." 

Love that is tired, forgets.

Love that is burned out, forgets.

Love that is resentful, forgets.

Love that is always busy, forgets.

We can return to our Jesus, our hearts aglow with first love (even if it's been ages since we received Him) with a commitment to follow His direction and His alone.

Not man's traditions.

Not our own guilt.

Not our own definition of service.

As leaders and followers of Jesus, don't take your eyes (ever!) off the Master.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...