What would you write if you were to send an open letter to a church? What would Jesus write if He were to write an open letter to your church? What if it was a letter about your life? If you are like me, you may cringe a bit. What might Jesus say? Would it be the same thing that you would write?
In the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, there are 6 open letters to churches in Asia Minor. The topics mentioned by Jesus vary a bit. Some churches have no praise, and one has no admonition. Each of them has something we can apply to our own lives and our local church.
Dr. J. Otis Yoder wrote several sermons on these 6 churches which have been compiled into a short sermon booklet entitled Repent or Else. This booklet is helpful in explaining the messages that Jesus had to the churches, messages that are needful for the church today as much as they were then.
I found the messages to be simple and convicting, the issues that were affecting these churches were not archaic and foreign but rather “normal.” The most relevant one to me has been the church of Ephesus, where Jesus tells them that they are doing a lot of things right; however “you have lost your ‘first love.'” We get the picture of a marriage that has gotten stale. At one time, the couple was vibrantly “in love” when they first got married, but they have drifted apart. Jesus is drawing on a picture from Jeremiah 2:2-3:
“Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I will remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of you betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, the first-fruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,” says the Lord.'”
Jeremiah goes on to preach to Israel how they have gone so far as to practice immorality with the gods and nations around them. I believe Jesus is alluding to the fact that this is where you will end up after losing you first love if you do not repent.
I see this in my own life — a drifting while “performing.” How about you, when you read about these churches in the final book of the Bible, what do you see as a reminder to your own life?
Click here to request a printed booklet or the audio CD set.
– Tony High