I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. –Revelation 2:2 ESV
When you first believed, the truth of the Gospel was fresh. It was easy to spot those who had no idea what they were talking about. It was like being lost and suddenly finding the way home. The embedded code, once a frustrating mystery, was now clicking and you never turned away because it was still speaking.
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. -Revelation 2:3 ESV
But then others came along and started telling you that what was setting you free was not real. They said you were cherry picking your information and focusing only on what would give you life while ignoring what condemned you. They said you were out of balance and walking a thin line that teetered on heresy.
You began defending yourself and questioning everything just in case they were right. You backed down from the beatings and got caught up in the “better safe than sorry” doctrine. People pleasing got a little too important. It’s a hard road to travel and even harder with a target on your back. It feels like they’re all waiting for you to mess up, so you shrink to obscurity.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. -Revelation 2:4 ESV
You have abandoned the love you had at first because people got in the way. You spoke out about grace and love, about Jesus and His finished work, but they opposed you and you backed down.
He’s calling you back to the front lines because this fight was never about being liked or approved. It’s about screaming the gift of Salvation through the incessant buzz of religion because there are people dying in their own skin. There are people who don’t know that they, too, can come to the cross.
It’s confusing and bizarre to see self-proclaimed believers guarding the cross of Christ as though it were a trophy for the worthy. It’s more confusing when they are the very people you thought you could trust.
You got sidetracked by the shiny facade of the spit-polished and veneered. You get more approval for looking cleaned up than you do for resting in the promise of justification and the gift of righteousness. Too many are calling out your flaws, making it harder for you to trust in your relationship with Jesus. It’s easier to trust in your relationship with them.
Who said this was going to be easy? Jesus was killed for the Message. What makes you different? They may not burn you at the stake, but they can make you wish you were if you care about what they think.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. -Revelation 2:5 ESV
Remember the mystery you were chasing before you started caring if you were approved. Repent: see the struggle as part of it, not evidence that you were crazy.
Come back or risk falling asleep like the others. Preachers can end up preaching about preaching. Writers can end up writing about writing. Artists stop creating and start talking about creating. You can get so caught up in what you’re doing that you abandon what you’re doing to focus more on the “what” and not on the “why”.
Your “first love” is the “why”.
If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. -Revelation 2:6 ESV
If you lose your light, then you’re just like everyone else who talks to hear themselves talk.
Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. -Revelation 2:6 ESV
The best I can understand about what this last verse refers to is that the term “Nicolaitans” refers to the hierarchy found within religion. I won’t say much about this because there are only two verses in the Bible that use the term. But, using the Greek meanings of the words, the essence is that people have a relationship with the church, but not with God. They believe what their religion tells them to believe without question. With this in mind, a hierarchy removes the need for a personal relationship with Jesus, risking the belief that salvation is granted to those who practice their religion correctly. This leaves a person vulnerable to believing a false doctrine. This is why God hates it.
It makes sense if you remember that God sent Jesus as a means to having a personal relationship with His people. If His people abandon their trust in Him for their trust in their religious leaders, they become exposed prey for the father of lies. He’s the accuser and the destroyer.
Repent: turn around. Go back to your first love. If your religious community is after Love, then you’ll all be there together anyway. You aren’t wrong if you abandon the hierarchy that watches over you with a critical eye. You’re clearly wrong if you abandon the truth that saved you in the first place.
Do you have a little fight left in you?
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ -Revelation 2:7 ESV
Don’t be afraid. Put your shoes back on…
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” -John 14:1-7 ESV