“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’
When you are doing all the right things with sincerity, but your heart is disconnected from God; how do you get back into the flow of intimacy with Jesus?
The Church in Ephesus, externally, were doing everything right, but their hearts were not flowing in intimacy with Jesus. They were one of the main revival centers of the day. There had been a radical move of God and thousands were on fire for God. They were zealous for truth and diligent in the labor of the kingdom. You probably would have seen them and thought they were a top notch church, but God sees deeper. He saw the motivation of their hearts.
I can relate to the state of this church. Starting with sincerity; wanting to serve God, wanting to love Him wholeheartedly. Soon the labor and the demands of ministry overshadows the joy of intimacy. The religious routines and upholding an image of being on fire becomes priority. Little by little the conversation with God becomes less and less. We are so easily fooled by religion. We can do all the right things, even say all the right prayers; but if we have not love, we have nothing.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift ofprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. -1Corinthians 13:1-3
So what do we do? We are already “doing” the right religious activity. If the labor is overshadowing the romance; do we stop the labor? I would say “no” because Jesus affirms their work. Their labor is not the problem. People don’t burn out from working hard; but from wrong motivations.
Spiritual burnout does not come from hard work as much as from working with a wrong spirit—by seeking to gain approval from people, and by not connecting with the Spirit in the work. Embracing too many responsibilities out of the desire to be noticed by others often leads to burnout. -Mike Bickle
Jesus holds the Church in His hands and walks in their midst. This revelation of Jesus is necessary to draw a people back to their first love. It is the knowledge of “Immanuel, God with us.” He is sovereign over creation; seated above the circle of the earth. Jesus is on His throne, at the right hand of the Father. At the same time He walks among us. He has come near to walk with us. He is not wanting us to simply work for Him; He wants co-laborers. It is not our efforts that achieves fruit, it is abiding in Him that bears fruit. When we know that He is right here with us, desiring relationship; it makes makes us want to turn to Him.
Step 1: He is wanting us to remember the testimony of His presence in our lives. To remember the greatness of His mercy; that it was not by our own efforts that we were saved, but by grace and through faith. The testimony of God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ, who came to us and died on the cross, awakens love in our hearts.
Step 2: In the revelation of love, gladly we repent. It is sin to live disconnected from God; so we must turn our attention and affections from other things and towards the Lord. Even though we mourn our sin, we are comforted in His mercy.
Step 3: Through this comfort, we are undone and do the things we did when we first believed. Those first works were responsive to this great love. It is doing the works of the kingdom in relationship with Jesus, rather than on our own.
These three actions (Remember, repent, and first works) takes time and intentionality. It is a purposeful lifestyle focus. Just as it takes time to get out of the rhythm of intimacy with God; it will usually take some time to get back in the flow. He is right there; eager to come along side us. Jesus desires intimacy with us far more than we do. So be patient and find joy in His presence as He takes you by the hand in the process. I assure you, if we do not quit, we will not be disappointed.
Grace and peace to you.
Zack Roberts — zackroberts.blog
Operations Director at Ember