v 15. Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. Even in the ancient world of Paul’s day, the Ephesian’s reputation for love was in the news. And it was a love that knew no boundaries. It was known to encompass all sorts of people everywhere. Theirs was a faith/love that made light of differences, created opportunities for unity to be expressed and hinged on their common experience of the love of God expressed in Jesus. I think it was more than the notion of ‘I love you because we are all in God’s family and so I have to love you.’ It was not love based on that kind of duty, but more the delight of finding common bonds with a huge variety of people.
It might be worth it – if you can make time today – to look back at Acts 19 and the record of Paul’s visit to Ephesus. Then reflect on the different backgrounds and culture of the folk forming the church there. And they had learned to love and care for one another in such a way that their reputation had spread abroad.
How sad it is then to read the very first of the Seven Letters in Revelation 2 which is addressed to the Church in Ephesus. Things seem to be going well, so we find in v 2 ‘I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. ‘ But then by v 4 ‘ I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! ‘ This wonderful reputation for love had become tarnished. Tragic isn’t it that a church so praised by Paul for its love had been unable to maintain that reputation.
Beware when people speak well of a church – it needs hard work to keep up on it rather than assume such a reputation will continue for ever!
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