The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVIII

love lostRead Revelation 2: 1-7

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstandsYet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2: 1, 4

How important is it to you to be loved? How important is it to you to love others? How does your church show love? How are these three connected? If you get this, you can grow your church! Thus, consider the ways your church can do to make sure you are a golden lampstand that radiates Christ’s love, and never forget or lose our first love? 

John is asked to write a letter to seven churches, giving them encouragements, blessings, and condemnations. These are areas we all must carefully and seriously examine our own church to see if we are doing our best for His highest! As you read Revelation, consider that each of these seven churches is an actual church, then, and a representation of every church that has ever been, including yours. Read Revelation 2-3 and examine and pray, which one are you?

The letter is a clear proclamation of the sovereignty and eminence of Christ, who stands in authority and judgment to show that He is in charge, that He does care, and that we need to get aligned with His will or else suffer the consequences. His Church is His Church; it does not belong to us even though we are the Church in unity and being. We belong to Him with a distinction and a purpose, we must heed, take to heart, and practice to the best of our abilities and endeavors.

Thus, we need to have the mindset we are in worship and disciple and be effectual stewards of this endeavor to glorify Christ. 

Golden lampstands” refers to God’s Light, as the Church is the light to the world for God’s Glory. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. This shows His care, that Jesus is God and omniscient (all knowing and all seeing), and the One who is to inspire us, lead us and Who we worship.

So, why do so many churches fail and close down?

Because we did not do as we are called to do and as the letter states, as the warning proclaims, remove your lampstand. Judgment will be at hand soon, unless they repent!  The same for us, unless…  Jesus threatens them with judgment if they do not start to love again! This is also a parody of words, since the city of Ephesus had to be removed and then moved. So, is your church a golden lampstand or one whose has flamed out? All you have to do is repent and catch the love again (1 Cor. 13; 1 Thess. 1:3). 

So, keep in mind the principle purpose of the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). Which should cause us to heed how we run the ones we are called to steward?

John restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. God wants His Church to succeed, He wants you to succeed. John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. As can we. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise.

So what does this come down to?

We are to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit, and to be Love led, Sprit-led and Word led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members with a zeal for Christ and His love. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:19)! 

Reflection 

Why do you suppose this church in Ephesus had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ‘ugly’ that happens when a key component of doing church is left out? 

What does it mean to your church that Jesus is in charge and that He does care for you? How can this help you be aligned more with His will?

What if your church refuses to heed Christ as Lord? Does He have the right to judge your church? Would you deserve to suffer the consequences? Why do many Christians feel the answers to these questions is “no?” 

What are you going to do now about God’s call to heed Him and love them?

 

We Are To Have the Attitude of Christ! P4

Read and study, 1 Peter 4: 1-11

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”1 Peter 4: 9-10

Does Hospitality cover your church? Do you use it to help others? 

We are to be fueled and empowered by God’s love, and this includes its fruit of Hospitality, for those who come to our church. If not, we are not getting it. We are not getting what church is about, we are not getting what God’s call is or our purpose in the community.

Let’s look what this means. “Hospitality” specifically refers here to taking in travelers with generosity-not grudgingly or with complaining. In general, since we have Christ’s love flowing in us, it should flow to others around us.

This means we are to be willing to give preference to others, to look out for and look after one another, and to share, with discernment, what God has given us, including our family, home, finances, and food. In the church setting, this means we get beyond “the church is mine” mentality.

“Hospitality” is an attitude of stewardship where we do not own anything because we are merely the caretakers for the real owner, God. He desires us to share His stuff, and we comply out of reverence and gratitude to Him. Thus, as we come along side others, we are to welcome them and act out our faith in real, helpful kindness, generosity, and deeds. This includes providing help and lodging to fellow Christians, helping those who are being persecuted, and helping out in our community (Matt. 25:34-43; Luke 10:30-37; Rom. 12: 3-8, 13: 16:33; 1 Cor. 12:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:10; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 1:5-8).

“Use whatever gift” means to practice your spiritual gifts, and realize that the diversity we have is beneficial for one another. It also means being charitable or generous to others with what Christ has given you, and to serve Him without being held back by fear, time, or lack of talent.

“Very words of God” refers to Scripture, the words that God has spoken to us. This means to be careful how you speak and minister as we sometimes speak for God as He uses us!

Hospitality is the turning of our backs on our ‘ownership’ of the church, thinking it is mine and just my self-concerns and facing our neighbors. This will take the surrender of our will to Christ’s. If Hospitality does not take us beyond our pride and ownership mindset, then we have only a club of pride, not a real church infused with God’s love.

Hospitality must be our model for church life. It must flow into us from Christ, and in return, flow out from us to those around us. God’s love is the ultimate power for the Christian. Love is more than a feeling; it has segments and characters to it (John 13:1; 15:13;1 Corinthians 13:3; 1 John).

Love is also a choice, a decision that must be perused and worked on!