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There is always room left for growth

July 16, 2022
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Daily Scripture

Revelation 2:2-5

2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance. I also know that you don’t put up with those who are evil. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You have shown endurance and put up with a lot for my name’s sake, and you haven’t gotten tired. 4 But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first. 5 So remember the high point from which you have fallen. Change your hearts and lives and do the things you did at first. If you don’t, I’m coming to you. I will move your lampstand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Late in the first century, Roman rulers exiled a prophet with a pastor’s heart to the Mediterranean island of Patmos. Revelation 2-3 bore messages from God through that prophetic pastor to warn and support a “circuit” of seven churches in Asia Minor. The first message went to Ephesus, a church in the area’s dominant city. “Ephesus was the Gateway of Asia. One of its distinctions, laid down by statute, was that when the Roman proconsul came to take up office as governor of Asia, he must disembark at Ephesus and enter his province there….Its position made Ephesus the wealthiest and the greatest city in all Asia.” * The message praised real strengths in that strategically located church. Yet even those good people needed to “change their hearts and lives” (i.e., repent)—they had let go of the love they’d had at first. In this life, the work of “cleaning out the pond” and letting God transform us is never done.

  • Some commentaries struggle to figure out if “the love you had at first” refers to their love for God or for their fellow believers. The two are so interlocked that it seems needless to choose: “it might mean for both.” ** God commended the church for having “tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars.” Christians have always met false teachers, and the Ephesians had taken a firm stand against some of them. But scholar William Barclay noted, “There had been a honeymoon period, but the first flush of enthusiasm is past….It may well be that heresy-hunting had killed love, and orthodoxy had been achieved at the price of fellowship. When that happens, orthodoxy has cost too much. All the orthodoxy in the world will never take the place of love.” *** How can you hold to truth without letting “heresy-hunting” damage your personal love, or the love of the Christian community you belong to?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, always keep my heart warm with the love I receive from you and feel for you in return. Let my love never turn into lifeless pious words, but always remain the living center of all that I believe and value. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Taylor Senter

Taylor Senter

Taylor Senter is a summer intern at Resurrection Leawood, serving with the Creative Project Management team in the Resurrection Experience Division. She is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing and Management. Taylor grew up in Overland Park and is an identical twin!

When I read today’s guide, I asked myself several questions. What does “the love you had at first” mean? What information have I been given that made me take a step back from my faith? How do I strengthen my relationship with God after being fed false information? These questions were recently reintroduced to me during my internship here at Church of the Resurrection. It reminded me of the time I studied the Old Testament in my religion class at Baylor University, which affected me so profoundly that I took a step back from my faith. You see, I wasn’t exposed to the Old Testament as a child and never learned about God’s full power and abilities. However, this one step back turned into two steps forward, and I am forever grateful for that experience, because it allowed me to open up to others, talk deeply about my faith with loved ones, and find my love for theology.

“The love you had at first” seems to have multiple interpretations. It could mean the love you have for God and the strength of your faith, or the love you have for your fellow followers of Christ. I also correlate it to the passion one has for God, the kind of passion that has followers fully living through Christ and following him through the highs and lows.

We look at Christians in Ephesus, one of the greatest cities in Asia, full of love for Christ and hard workers. Yet God realizes that the passion they once had for him is beginning to fade. They once were motivated by the power of love, but this turned into a routine, and the love they had at first began to vanish. They followed God but not to the extent they did when they first found Him.

Passion for serving and living through Christ can have its ups and downs. Perhaps it plateaus, not growing or declining, just stagnating. I have experienced my own fair share of these moments. You get on a euphoric high for Christ for a while, waking up feeling like you’re on top of the world. Then the joy and euphoria begins to fade away, and you begin to question if your faith is going with it.

This may seem like a sad feeling, but that is what I find so exciting about following Christ. I sometimes feel my relationship with God is fading away when suddenly, I find God again through experiences, nature, strangers, or reading a verse that feels like the perfect fit for what I am going through at the moment. God does not keep his followers bored. He keeps us excited about his next move, to really feel Him when you would never expect it and that’s something I really admire. That’s something that draws me back in without fail.

Finally, I want to thank the church as this might be the last GPS I write this summer. Working in this environment has made me realize that God has never left my side, He is still very much with me, and His love is extremely visible in everyone I have encountered. So thank you, Church of the Resurrection, for making me realize that I am loved, and God is always with me. I will always keep this summer close to my heart.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* William Barclay, The Revelation of John—Volume 1 Chapters 1–5 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 58.

** NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 287639). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

*** William Barclay, The Revelation of John—Volume 1 Chapters 1–5 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 64.