“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for Me without quitting.”
Revelation 2:2-3 NLT
In His opening few lines, Jesus commends the Ephesian church. He has noticed that they have been actively involved in doing good works in their church, and probably their community. And they have diligently gone about it without giving up. Also, Jesus commends them for their discernment. They have been able to sniff out “evil people“, and “apostles [who] are not”, having the confidence to label them “liars”. And they have been suffering for Him; we don’t know in what way, but it in other places in the New Testament, we find that the early Christians experienced ostracisation in their communities and problems in running businesses. Probably low level anti-social behaviour was focused on them. They may have even been imprisoned for their faith. But whatever the suffering was, they didn’t give up being Christians. Jesus was saying to them, “Well done”, and you can perhaps feel their pride in the accolade.
As pilgrims today, do we relate to these tributes from Jesus? Should they even be applied to us? What I mean is, do we work hard for our faith? Are we also discerning and weeding out evil people, those who would try and lead us away from the purity of the Gospel and Biblical teaching? Are we suffering for our beliefs?
Christianity today has somehow acquired a reputation for being tired and irrelevant in the Western societies in which we live; at least, that is what the media would try and have us believe. And the religious scandals of recent decades have provided further evidence to support their negative and misleading articles and reports. Furthermore, liberal theology has crept into some denominations, diluting the purity of Jesus’ teaching. A recent media article from a retiring Church of England Vicar lamented the fact that his liberal views on morality were not accepted by many churches in his denomination. And he went on to say the only churches growing in numbers and income are those which are “conservative, punchy and fundamentalist”. Perhaps those churches were the ones that adhered to Jesus’ teaching, rejecting the worldliness that comes with theological liberalism. Note that Jesus appealed to the Ephesian church to repent of its apostasy before their “lampstand” was removed. Perhaps His message is echoing down the corridors of time into our day as well.
We pilgrims live our lives the Jesus way. Conscious that He is with us in every step we take. Conscious of His love and encouragement. We are always working hard for our faith. Enduring the negatives we encounter for daring to be counter-cultural, Bible-believing Christians. And keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the goal ahead; our own accolades are waiting.
Dear Lord. We thank You for caring for us, for loving us, for encouraging us, for being with us, day by day. Amen.