Your church does a lot of work. Good work.
Your church has endured through some very difficult times.
Your church knows the difference between right and wrong. It pursues what’s right while rejecting what is false.
But something is missing. It’s the one thing that holds together all of the good things you are doing. Without this one thing that you have forgotten, your good works are nails on a chalkboard.
Yes, you are doing a lot of good. But you have forgotten how to love. And you need to repent.
That’s what Jesus told the Church in Ephesus 2,000 years ago (Revelation 2:1-7). His words are just as applicable to us today. They reveal to us what really matters to Jesus. They show us that there is no amount of good works that can cover for the absence of love.
It is possible for our churches to be active in the community, discerning in our teaching and enduring in our faith and still get it wrong.
But Jesus didn’t just tell the Ephesians how they were messing up and then move on to the next town. He offered them a solution. And that solution may not be what you would expect.
Many of the church experts of our day would tell the Ephesians to quit worrying so much about the difference between right and wrong. “It doesn’t really matter in the end anyway,” they might say. “Just love. Love is strong enough to cover our differences of belief.”
Jesus said quite the opposite.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:5 (ESV)
Jesus tells the Ephesian believers to keep doing their good work. But he tells them to do it with love. Love for him. Love for others.
We need to make a bold stand against homosexuality and gay marriage. But if we’re not loving homosexuals and gay couples while we’re making our stand, we are a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.
We need to be quick and intentional about sharing the gospel with the Muslims next door. But if we’re not sincerely broken over those Muslim neighbors spending an eternity in hell, our alleged missional engagement is nothing.
We need to answer the door when the Mormon’s come knocking and we must not give in to their argument that there really is no difference between our two faiths. But if we’re only trying to win a debate and not win the person standing at our door, nothing is gained.
We must carry on with our mission. But we had better do so out of a sincere love for God instead of an empty devotion to religion or tradition. Otherwise, we may discover that we never were a part of Jesus’ true Church to begin with.
There is nothing more irrelevant than a culturally relevant church that has forgotten how to love.