He Who Has an Ear to Hear, Pt. 2
If Jesus finds it necessary to admonish us to hear and understand what He is saying to us, as the people of God, then it must stand to reason that we are lacking when it comes to developing our spiritual sense of hearing. It is one thing to be able to see what is going on in the spirit. Indeed, the enemy has not only revealed his plans but thrown in our faces the methods with which he is attempting to accomplish them. However, it is another thing to hear what God is saying about those plans and what our response to them should be.
That being said, when the resurrected Christ appears to John in Revelation, He did not immediately address the evil in the world. No, He chooses to address His Church, and with each of seven proclamations He makes, He reveals more of His character and nature, provides course corrections, and declares, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:6, 13, 22). Jesus addresses the one who is foremost on His heart and mind: His church, and it is this message that the enemy is trying to prevent us from hearing.
So, what is this message? There are seven, all provided in Revelation, and all are relative for today. These messages that the Spirit has been breathing out on humankind since John's revelation are still reverberating today to bring us to maturity in Christ, cleansing and sanctifying us so necessary that Christ might present us "to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).
Let’s examine the first of Christ’s messages to us.
In Revelation 2:1-7, Christ appears to the church and lists all the ways in which they have done well. Their works are the first thing mentioned, which should be telling. This church has served others, put up with persecution, endured, and remained faithful. They tested every new philosophy and teaching that came out of the mouths of those who claimed to be carriers of a five-fold ministry gift, and when examined against the gospel and sound doctrine, they rejected it. This church worked tirelessly and refused to grow weary in their constant activity. However, (and this is big) Jesus and the gospel of Christ had become a mere spoke on the wheel that kept the church moving. He was no longer the hub around which all activity centered; instead, it was their programs and ideas that kept everything going, and somewhere in all of that activity, they fell in love with themselves and what they represented.
Lest you think this is some small matter, the Greek word for left Revelation 2:4 is aphiemi, meaning to be bid to go away, sent away, divorce, abandon, and desert wrongfully. In other words, this was not an accidental loss of love or even the idea that Jesus perceived He was being neglected. It was intentional. They had divorced Christ and kept His name! This is why Jesus admonished them to remember how far they had fallen and to repent. He wanted them to remember what it had been like in the beginning when they first recognized that the Gospel of Christ was the power of God unto salvation and understood that we love only because He first loved us. He wanted them to return to a life centered in and through Him when it was not simply about good works but about being Christ's hands and feet. If they would not return to Him, if they continued to be a church who had divorced its head, He would snuff out the light they were carrying Himself.
What a tragedy! A church that no longer acknowledges Jesus as Lord is no church. It is nothing more than a social institution that borrows somebody else's name to give themselves more influence, and God is nobody's fool. The message is all or nothing, and that means complete surrender, self-death. I guess Jesus does give them kudos for hating evil and perversion, but then what sane person doesn’t? As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Church, we cannot afford to be an institution of good intentions. We need to be impregnated with God's purposes and empowered to carry them out! This only happens in the context of an intimate relationship with the Lord. It’s time to renew our covenant with Christ. While I would say this is our reasonable service, Jesus says that to those who repent and make Him their priority and center of their action, the Father will give them the right to eat from the tree of life! What an extraordinary privilege, and yet, how incredibly sad.
For years men have sought the key to immortality. It still permeates our cultural fabric from beauty products to diet and exercise regimes; everything seems geared towards expanding our own lives for as long as possible. Yet, this truth remains: Jesus is Life, and His Spirit has been speaking this for centuries. If we threw ourselves into Him with the same level of motivation and desire that we do the latest diet fads, we would only skim the surface of the depth of the relationship into which Christ desires to take us.
A Summation of Message One from Jesus: Return to Me! Make Me your center! Remember that I AM LORD! Eternal life is in Me. I am beckoning and wooing you back, but not forever. Hear what the Spirit is saying!