>Revelation 2:1-7

The first of the seven letters the apostle John is told to write in his vision goes to the church in Ephesus. It begins with a recognition of their works. They are commended for their toil and patient endurance, and their utter disdain for those who are evil. They are pushing forward, even in the face of adversity. The letter is very complementary to begin with; however, they don’t have everything right. There is something against them.

They are accused of abandoning the love they had at first. It’s not that they were being disobedient, but they forgot for what purpose they were displaying this obedience. It wasn’t out of duty. It wasn’t out of obligation. It was out of love. As I reflect on what is written here, I can’t help but think about so many people who come to faith and are on fire – I mean, absolutely, head-over-heels, no holds barred, going all the way in spite of what lies ahead, on fire.

It’s interesting when you meet people who have recently come to faith after leading a life full of sin; those who have really caught on fire for God. They tend to be very black and white in their thinking. They tend to be extremely fundamental in their theology and outlook. I’m not saying that is bad either. Don’t get me wrong here. I would rather take a handful of people who are on fire for the faith and eager to learn from the Word, than a large number who are more “mature” in the faith, but fail to have any excitement about it. You can teach theology, but you can’t teach passion.

But, given time, these people who were so emotionally caught up in their conversion experience, eventually, the emotions die. It reminds me of the transfiguration. Talk about a spiritual high! Three of the disciples were on a mountain top and saw the full glory of Jesus Christ, and saw Moses and Elijah – two pillars of their faith at the time. Peter’s response is to want to build three tents. He wanted to put something down to commemorate the event. He wanted a sense of permanency.

We all do this. We get a spiritual high, and we end up wanting to stay on top of the mountain. Because we know that eventually, even gradually, we will lose that high. Reality will come clawing its way back into our lives and a part of us will go on living life as it was before, even though we know there is no way that it is business as normal. I think this is why so many people can get caught up in the high emotional experience of some Pentecostal churches. Again, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that all Pentecostal churches are bad, but I am saying that there needs to be more to the faith than just an emotional experience. We are called to make disciples, not to create spiritual highs.

On the other hand, we can also go to the opposite extreme, and that is what has happened in the church at Ephesus. They were so busy with the business of the faith, that they forgot why they were doing it in the first place. They lost the fire. They lost the love that they had burning in their hearts. They did what they did because that is what they were supposed to do as Christians. It is a matter of motivation. The spiritual highs, though never permanent, should always be a benchmark of one’s spiritual development. I’m not saying that there is a need to continually seek the next spiritual high, as though we are some kind of adrenaline junkie looking for our next fix. But we need to be aware of what the Spirit was doing in those moments. We need to tune our hearts to the Spirit’s call in our lives, and most of all, we need to be faithful with what the Spirit is telling us to do.

The church in Ephesus did all the right things. The problem wasn’t their actions, or even their thinking. It was their hearts. They needed to get their hearts back in the right place. They needed to remember why they were doing the right actions and adjust their hearts to match their actions.

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. – Revelation 2:7