December 26, 2007

More than Notion

I’m winding down my annual trek through the Bible, reading the book of Revelation this last week of the year. This year, it seemed that there was a personal letter tucked in its pages…a letter addressed specifically to me. OK, actually the letter is addressed to the church at Ephesus, and it’s “angel” (literally messenger…maybe its pastor?). But it seems as though this letter could well be addressed to me. Maybe to you, too. It goes like this (Revelation 2.1-6):

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 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. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 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.'

Let me summarize what I think Jesus means:

‘Dear Ephesians,

I see that your doctrine continues to be sound. You have kept pressing on in My work…doing the things you know you should. But something’s missing. It seems the fire doesn’t burn as brightly as it has. Yes, you’re continuing in good habits (maybe even building some new ones). But don’t forget that I want your heart as well as your habits. I want you to love Me like you did when you first believed…to find your heart beating a little faster at the thought of heaven; to be excited again to tell folks what’s happened to you; to be choked up once more when you think about the cross.

Don’t settle, Ephesians (or Cincinnatians), simply for being doctrinally sound (important as that is!). Remember that “true religion’s more than notion, something must be known and felt.”
[1] I must be known and felt. Press on in that true religion. You’ll find that it alone satisfies your spiritual hunger…both now and in eternity.

He who walks among His churches and knows your hearts’

Love is not simply shown through emotion. And feelings aren’t everything. But feelings are important to Jesus. And right emotions leading to loving actions are, I believe, what He is referring to in Revelation 2.1-6. So let’s be as doctrinally sound as we can in 2008. But let’s remember that “true religion’s more than notion, something must be known and felt.”

[1] From a hymn by Joseph Hart.

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