The Golden Lampstand
It is a wonderful experience to walk by the golden light of a street light stand. The soft glow of the light brings a sense of beauty and warmth even in the midst of darkness.
In the book of Revelation Jesus walks among the golden lamp stands.
He says in Revelation 1:20 that the lamp stands are the churches in the book of Revelation. I've been studying the words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus. I'm a little taken back by the fact that Jesus warns the church in Ephesus that if they do not repent and return to the first works that He will come quickly and remove their lamp stand.
The first works are those things that mean the most to Jesus.
They are what matters to Jesus. We can get caught up in doing a lot of rituals in the church. We love routines and programs and doing the same thing over and over. In fact we can develop a sense of accomplishment simply in getting the task done.
But these rituals and routines were not most important to Jesus. Checking off the list was not most important to Jesus. Getting things done was not most important.
In the words of Jesus, they had 'left their first love'. These are actually really strong words. They had departed from what was most important in Christianity. They were doing so much that was right but they had departed from the most important aspect of the Christian faith. Like the man who had left his wife, the Ephesians had left what mattered most.
They had left agape love.
And this is interesting because Jesus didn't say, "You've left me." He didn't say, "You've departed from God".
He said, you've left agape.
And if they refused to return to agape, Jesus would come quickly and remove their lamp stand from its place.
The lamp stand had been positioned by God in its place. Jesus was about to remove it. There would be no more light in that place. That church would no longer shine.
Where there is no agape, there is no light.
1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
To Jesus, agape is the most important aspect of the church. Whether the church will have light or not depends directly on the agape in the church.
Now agape in the early writings of the church described a very important function of the early church. It described a very distinct feast, the agape feast. It was practiced daily by believers in homes. The early church had no official church facilities due to the ongoing persecution of the Romans.
Therefore they met in homes. They met daily. They met for a simple feast. They spent time praising God, listening to preaching, sharing the spiritual gift that God had given each of them, receiving the bread and wine of the communion of our Lord, and sharing a meal together. Every day this is what they did. This is how they lived.
And they had left it.
Jesus warned in Matthew 24 when He predicted His second coming that iniquity would increase and agape would wax cold. He said woe unto the Pharisees because they were willing to tithe on herbs but passed over the most important things like the judgement of God and the agape of God. Jesus said in John 13 to His disciples that this is how the world will know you're my disciples - because of your agape for one another.
The church in Ephesus had left agape for ritual and routine.
The church in Ephesus had left the most important aspect of the Christian faith, agape love for one another.
It was time to repent and return to agape.
Agape love for one another is still the most important aspect of the Christian faith. God is agape. We are to be full of God and therefore full of agape. Our agape is in God, and it is also in each other.
In His prayer for the church, Jesus specifically prayed that we would be one in the agape of God. He continues to make prayers on our behalf in this regard.
Let's return to what is most important to Jesus. Let's return to agape. Let's make agape most important in our lives as His church.