“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:2,4)
Do you not love it when people tell you that you have done a good job? All of that hard work, all of that effort and now people can see the result and they praise you for it. You may be too modest to admit to this, but it is something we all like and it is not something which is totally wrong. As Jesus speaks to his people across Asia, he wants them to know that it pleases him to see their growth as disciples.
Flowing from his love towards his people, Jesus also makes clear that discipleship is a process, not an exam to be passed. You can see this in the way he speaks with the church in Ephesus. He is pleased that they have persevered and worked hard, but he is equally well aware that this perseverance and hard work is accompanied with a dangerous flaw.
One of the great temptations which always faces the people of God is losing our first love. God in the garden was good, but the fruit seemed that little bit more appealing. Did you notice that in both these cases the mix up takes places communally? It is therefore important to ask this question; what is the object or attitude which rests in our line of sight which just seems to be a little more pleasing?
For the church in Ephesus, it seems like doing the right things for the sake of doing them had become the dominant attitude of the heart not the outpouring of adoration for the one who loves them. We need to be aware of this reminder in our ministry together. We need to recognise that this is a condition which is common to every person and we are not immune.
Let’s apply this in our prayer ministry in two ways. First of all for our team working in East Asia and among East Asian’s across the world. Pray that they would be protected by our loving Father from powerless activism and instead that they would be filled and refreshed by the Spirit with love for Christ which will bring glory to the Father.
Secondly in our ministry together in Scotland and the wider UK team let’s ask God to keep us humble and wholehearted. We need this as we seek to pray for our team serving amongst East Asian’s. But we also need this as we work towards inviting others to join in this ministry of prayer and equipping within the local church in Scotland.