Letters from God – Why forsake your first love? (Part 1)
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Rev. 2:2, 4
God delights in communicating with His children. He does not leave us in doubt or in the dark about His wishes on how we should live. He is not okay with our doing just anything that catches our fancy, or doing things anyhow without care.
He looks down at the affairs of men, divining the intention of our heart and assessing our ways, so that we can be the best that He has created us to be, here and in the world to come.
Earlier in the course of history of the church, God took a look at what was going on in the church. These churches were made up of members who loved Him and had decided to serve Him, some in spite of grave threats to their lives.
They were in different geographical places and spiritual phases in their experiences. Yet, they were almost all sick and had problems that needed solutions they could not offer on their own.
And, rather than leave them alone in that condition, God sent them messages to let them know that He was watching and could heal them.
These letters are equally applicable to us today. The best way to understand them is to put our personal names where the name of the church is.
If you have not gone through the experience described in it already, chances are that you will likely go through it some time or the other. That is the essence of reading these letters.
They have DIAGNOSTIC value – just like what a lab test will tell you about what is going on in your body and will explain the cause of health symptoms you might have been experiencing or is lurking in your body.
The letters to the Churches in Asia Minor also have DESCRIPTIVE value, in that they describe the details of what is good, and what is bad. The description is almost like what a microscope will reveal, down to the last minute detail.
They tell what is obvious outwardly, and also go on to describe what is in the heart. Only and Omniscient God can do that.
Finally, these letters have PRESCRIPTIVE value, in that they tell what to do to avoid dying as a result of whatever ailment has been diagnosed. The prescriptions are like pills, therapies or procedures that can heal what has been diagnosed and described.
Like the early churches, we have different geographic addresses and are at different spiritual phases in our experiences. Yet God cares about each one of us at those different points that He speaks to our needs through the messages to His churches. We are the church of today, literally and figuratively.
We need the spiritual diagnosis, description, and prescription that summarises our spiritual condition and what it can be if we allow God to continue His work on us.
It is for our own good to take these messages seriously, whether for the benefit of their diagnostic, descriptive or prescriptive values.
We will start with the first letter, to the church in Ephesus.
LETTER TO THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS
Here is the letter from God to the Ephesus church of the first century, unedited, as recorded in the book of Revelation. The Ephesus of that time is in the nation of Turkey today.
The letter was written by the apostle John, the beloved disciple of Christ. He is also known as John the Revelator, because of the many visions he received when he was banished to the Isle of Patmos by the Roman Empire.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my Name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
TO BE CONTINUED
By Dr. Joyce Aryee, the author