Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ephesus – a backsliding church

“Remember then from what you have fallen” (Revelation 2: 5 RSV)

Music from Mozart; then from the film theme of ‘Dr Zhigavo’ - and the music played on and on. I was standing in the Cathedral square of Salzburg, listening to a violinist and a guitarist. Suddenly my whole body tingled as a piece from Brahms drifted across the square. My saintly mother used to play it on a rickety piano years earlier, in the missionary home where I was raised, in Kenya. I could feel the tears coming….

Such is the power of memory. Now think of the book of Revelation, where, early on, Christ’s message was imparted to seven churches in turn, through a series of visions recorded by the apostle John. Here, the church in question was at Ephesus, founded earlier by apostle Paul. The church had done well in its early years – situated on the West coast of what today is Turkey. Under the gaze of the risen, glorified Christ, the Ephesian church had passed the Service Test, the Doctrine Test and the Endurance Test! Only in one area – a vital one – was it falling short.

“Yet I hold this against you,” comes the message of Jesus. “You have forsaken your first love.” This is a warning to every church. Without that primary love of Christ – spilling over to meet the challenges and needs of a dying society – a church can virtually cease to be a church. ‘Look back!’ comes the message. ‘Remember those earlier times – and repent!’

When such a purification happens to enough churches, a heaven-sent Revival could be on its way…. and not before time!