The first letter that was written in Revelation was to a church in the city of Ephesus. Now the Ephesian church was a great church that had some tremendous leadership; stemming from the founding pastor (the Apostle Paul), all the way to other great leaders in the Bible, like Apollos and Paul’s apprentice Timothy.
What we find in the book of Revelation is that every time Jesus had something to say to these churches he always started out with this phrase “I know your deeds.” There’s this reality, even for us, that Jesus is actually witnessing what his church is doing - what we’re doing.
As you read, you’ll see that Jesus often will give them praise, like:
- I know there have been false teachers that have tried to sneak into the church and preach false doctrine…but you didn’t let it happen, so “way to go.”
- I know that you’ve been facing some persecution…but you’ve still stayed strong
- I know that you’ve been really active and involved…and so you’re doing some great things… BUT
As you continue to read, you’ll notice that Jesus gives them this really BIG…”BUT” ;-) where it comes across almost like a job performance review: “You’re doing a great job / a real team player, and we love having you; BUT….You’re still forgetting to put the cover sheet on your TPS reports”.
What Jesus is saying is: “you’re doing great, BUT….you’re really not hitting the mark in this particular area.” Look at his statement in Revelation 2:4-5 “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first”.
What Jesus is trying to convey to us is that, although you’ve done some really great things, you’ve forgotten why you’re doing it, you’ve forsaken your first love, and quite frankly, “your hearts not in it.”
The reality is that Jesus not only wants a life of service, and effectiveness for his kingdom, but more importantly he wants a life that seeks him, that loves him, and that knows him. Where out of that love & knowledge, lives a life of service to him as a way of putting our faith into action. God cares far more about our character and our relationship with him, than he does our endeavors; where focusing on WHO we are in Christ means much more than WHAT we do for him.
At Timberlake Church, as with any growing and healthy church, we have a very specific mission, which is to: “Create More and Better Disciples of Jesus Christ.”
The reality is, every church or organization has begun with a mission or vision to accomplish a great goal, but unfortunately hasn’t always been able to stay on track. This could be due to “scope creep,” conflicting visions, or even “well intentioned” programs that can dilute the primary mission that God has called us to. So over the next few weeks I want to look at how we, as a church, can ensure that we’re fulfilling God’s mission for Timberlake.
To begin I want to look at God’s word to locate any precedence or foundation for our discussion. I believe that as you read through the Bible, what you’re going to discover (especially in the book of Acts) is that the EARLY CHURCH was definitely “ON MISSION.” They were dangerous! You’ll read about how they took risks, how thousands of lives were being changed, how miracles were taking place, and how relationships we’re being restored. It’s an amazing picture of what the church is supposed to look like today!
Unfortunately, (like many churches today) the Early Church, VERY QUICKLY got derailed. So the question is “WHY?”
Let’s start figuring out the answer to that question by looking at the book of Revelation. Now, I know that some people get a little “weirded out” when they look at the “Blackhawk helicopter…barcode on your forehead….antichrist” book of the Bible, right? Somehow we’ve been led to believe that Revelation is all about stocking up on canned goods and trying to move off the grid to someplace where no one will ever find you; like Sequim. But that’s not at all what it’s about!! In fact, if you look at the very first verse in the book of Revelation it says: “A revelation of Jesus Christ.” It’s a book that’s all about Jesus! And in the first 3 chapters of Revelation, you’ll find a section of scripture where Jesus is speaking specifically to 7 different churches, giving them very specific instructions, encouragement and correction.
My hope is that, this week, you’ll open your Bibles to the book of Revelation and start reading the first 3 chapters to see what Jesus is instructing us to do as the body of Christ. Starting next week, I’ll start outlining some of what Jesus was saying.