The biggest danger that we as Christians have at any given time is the ease with which we have in becoming distracted from the highest calling bestowed to us — that of loving God with all our heart and soul and strength (Matthew 22:36-38).
Gradually slipping from the wonderful summit of our first love, we cool down in our spiritual exhilaration. The fading of our adoration is never instant nor easily recognizable. Instead, it dissipates by degrees as the corrosion of our over-burdened schedules, over-stimulated senses, and overwhelming responsibilities eats at us, leaving us little more than organic shells that function but don’t really live.
Just as each individual believer in Jesus is summoned to place all things under the banner of loving God with all that is within him, and secondly to love each other at least as much as each loves himself, the collective assembling of these Believers (the Church) is charged with the urgent and supreme task of leading people to faith in Jesus as Savior and teaching them to submit entirely to Him as Lord.
Just as individual Christians can become distracted — and as a result of that, become ineffective and fruitless — the Church can also be made so because those within her ranks become cold, apathetic, distracted and disoriented.
The burning question follows: “Is the Church all that it should be?” Is it compassionate, seeing with eyes like God’s the hurt and hopelessness of the world? Is it pure, casting aside all things that hinder the fullness of God’s presence in its midst? Is it faithful to carefully follow all of God’s loving commandments? Is it visionary, seeking to bring the power of God into all spheres of human affairs? And is it mobilized, soothing the wounds of people in the world with the balm of Jesus’ love?
And if we find ourselves unable to answer in the affirmative in each of these matters, the next question is one that we each should ask ourselves: “Am I all that I should be in the Kingdom of God?”
The health of the Church is determined by the spiritual health of those that comprise her. And if we do, in fact, find that the church (by which I mean all Christians as well as individual assemblies) is ailing, then we must conclude that those within her are ailing too, sick with the diseases associated with disharmony with God.
If we find that we have the symptoms that indicate that all things are not what they should be and the viruses of worldly perspectives and selfish agendas have infected us, we can assume that the Great Physician has already diagnosed our problem and is set on providing us the remedies necessary to set things right.
For example, in Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus speaks to the church in the ancient city of Ephesus, commending them on their hard work, but with His supernatural X-ray eyes, chides them for having lost their first love … their “passion” for Him.
The church in the city of Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) He acknowledges that they have been faithful in spite of strong spiritual opposition, yet points out that their passion for Him has become watered down among many passions, particularly physical ones which many today also erroneously equate with the term “passion.”
The church in the town of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) He recognizes for their loving disposition, faith, service and endurance, yet He zeroes in on the fact that their passion for Him has become obscured by immorality and idolatry.
In regard to the church in the city of Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), He sees its program and visibility which likely seems really great and “cutting edge” to people all around them, yet, Jesus says that they are dead … that there is no life … no genuine connection with God and, therefore, no genuine spiritual activity in the hearts of its people: a whole lot of “human” activity doesn’t necessarily mean that what is taking place is of God.
And finally the church in the town of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-20) He strongly rebuffs, diseased as it is with self and worldliness that run so deep that they have delusions of spiritual wealth and health.
In each case, the remedy is the same. Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22 ESV).
We may look to a lot of different things in life to satisfy our cravings for attention, affirmations and applause, but nothing and no one but Jesus Himself can bring to our hungry hearts genuine peace and hope.
We may settle for busy schedules and a lot of meager personal accomplishments that last for a little while, but nothing and no one but Jesus Himself can receive the investment of our love and service, multiply them so that they not only achieve more and go deeper than what we could on our own, but also make them last for eternity!