Bible Society of South Africa

When things go wrong - 12 June 2023

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

4But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first.

Revelation 2:4GNBOpen in Bible reader

Last Friday, we saw that Jesus was not satisfied with two of the churches (Sardis and Laodicea). Although he did find positive things to recommend in Ephesus, Pergamum and Thyatira, all was not well in these three churches either. There were things which Jesus said that he had against them. Is it really possible that those churches that received high praise from Jesus, also have some serious flaws? Unfortunately, yes. That is probably true of each of us.

If we count all our spiritual shortcomings, it can be very depressing or we can see it as an opportunity to follow Jesus even more faithfully. That is why Jesus points out the wrongs. We can probably make a fairly long list of shortcomings in our church and own spiritual lives, but it might be worthwhile to look at what Jesus told these churches.

The church members in Ephesus were a busy lot. Jesus praised their hard work and the fact that they had not given up in their fervor for the Lord, but there was a serious problem as well – “… you do not love me now as you did at first” (Revelation 2:4). Love for Jesus is the most important of all things. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2b: “I may have all the faith to move mountains – but if I have no love, I am nothing.” Do I still have time to love Jesus as in the beginning or am I maybe too busy?

The faithful in Pergamum suffered severe persecution and Jesus praised them, for in spite of this, they did not abandon their faith in him. In Thyatira, Jesus praised them, “I know your love, your faithfulness, your service, and your patience.” (Revelation 2:19) Strangely enough, these two praiseworthy churches tolerated people with heretic teachings, people who misled the church.

How does Jesus want us to react to people who do not believe? May I, for instance, not have anything to do with them? May I not have any friends who are non-religious? I do not think this is what Jesus wants. What he does want is that his church, and we as members of the church, should not diverge from what God teaches in his word, the Bible. It is our duty to be vigilant; we cannot leave it all to the church leaders.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, please forgive me that I am sometimes so busy that I neglect to love you as I should and that I am sometimes afraid to speak against those who try to lead the church away from you. Amen

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