The mission of the church is more than keeping the lights on, the doors open

I’m stuck, but what’s up. I taught 1st Timothy, and the apostle Paul had a young, middle-aged pastor named Timothy hang around Ephesus and get things back on track at the church. We can follow the history of the Church in Ephesus during Paul’s second missionary journey from Acts 18 and 19. We see more about this specific church in 1st Timothy and then in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 2 we see a letter written to the church by Christ himself, and it’s not exactly a nice email.

The reason I say I’m stuck is that I find myself thinking a lot about this church. In this note of Jesus in Revelation 2:1 – 7, He encourages these people to get things straight or He will come and close the church. I remember what former NFL quarterback Don Meredith sang on Monday Night Football when it looked like there was a certain winner in the football game – he sang the old song of Willie Nelson, “Turn Out the Lights the Party’s Over” – it’s a bit like what Jesus said: “Do it right or get out of the pool, the party’s over.”

It is clear that Jesus wants the church to prosper in His seven letters in Revelation, but He is not so much in favor of the survival of the local church. Keeping the doors open and the lights on is not the mission of the church (Matthew 28:19 -20).

The Church of Ephesus was Orthodox, but it only followed the movements of Christianity. They weren’t bad people; they just didn’t have a spiritual pulse. In the movie “A Bug’s Life” they talk about insects and how they, “Come, they eat and they go.” The people of Ephesus didn’t even do that. They were coming and going, but they weren’t eating from a spiritual standpoint.

Jesus tells these people that they have done good, but their work is not done and they must love it as they did in the past (Can you remember how much you have loved Jesus when you first established a relationship with him?) and “do the works that you did in the beginning (Revelation 2:5).

I like John 5’s story about a guy who was an “invalid” and he hung out with other disabled people. Jesus sees this guy and asks him a question that we all need to answer from a spiritual perspective: Jesus says, “Do you want to be healed (John 5:6)? Jesus heals the man, then tense clerics ask the former invalid why he was breaking church rules by wearing the sleeping bag he used to sit on while hanging out with his buddies a Sunday (Sabbath).

I told you to tell you that. I’m free. God’s grace sets us free to do what Jesus told us to do. We are not waiting for the church, and we are not responsible to a broken religious system (judiasm), we are free. Jesus is for us, he gives us strength and he told us to go and make disciples. Stop surviving, thrive! What are you waiting for? An old man once told me that I was worried about deciding to do something. He said to me, “Ken, the only one stopping you is you.” Here is. He told me to tell you. Go get them!

Charles K. Eckert