Jesus had a complaint with the church in Ephesus. They lost their first love. This church had amazing ministry coming out of it. They weren’t a lazy complacent church.
Let’s get some perspective here: Jesus was more concerned about their love relationship than he was their ministries. It was because of their love for Jesus they had amazing ministry. It seems to say Jesus’ idea of amazing ministry is this: Amazing ministry is a result of the loving not the doing and to Him it’s all about the loving.
I teach a 12 week series on maturing in God’s presence. In a nut shell, our passionate love relationship with Jesus gives Him full access to mature us into an empowered Bride of Christ. It never fails, half way through people well start to approach me with “I know what God wants me to do.” When we fan the flame for Jesus we will see ministry grow and come alive.
What I have seen in ministries and tried myself is put the cart before the horse. We tend to think doing or having ministry are important to sustaining a life passionate for Jesus. In reality, these ministry ideas and strategies are a RESULT of our love relationship with Jesus.
Let me give you some examples to show you what I mean.
1- Charismatic pastor, rocking worship leader or celebrity speaker. Somehow we think their particular style of worship, teaching and passion will help fan the flame of devotion. It’s good to have a pastor steeped in the Word and can present it in a way everyone understands. It’s good to have people on the platform that have their integrity still intact.
The church in Ephesus had those things too. Paul spent 3 years establishing this church, which meant Timothy was around. Apostle John was a leader there. If John was there so was Mary mother of Jesus (must have been an amazing women’s ministry). You could say this church was acquainted and affiliated with the cream of the crop of the early church yet 40 years later they lost their hunger for Jesus? hmmm
You see amazing pastors, teachers, evangelist and rocking worship leader is a result of passion for Jesus, not the other way around.
2- Miracles, signs and wonders. I am the first one to say the power of the Holy Spirit promotes better than the best marketing plan you could buy. We sometimes tend to think if the church was exhibiting more miracles people would be more passionate about Jesus. It’s the other way around. The more passion for Jesus, the more ardent pursuit of His ways and thinking – the more we will see miracles. Miracles, signs and wonders won’t sustain the first love, if it did how come some miracle working ministry leaders have had moral failures?
3 – Transforming society’s culture. It’s a buzz word today for sure. Many people are pushing and teaching how to change their city’s culture. I am all about God taking over my city. Yet we sometimes think if we change the culture of the entertainment industry, the political climate, the education system, the healthcare shortcomings somehow everyone will love Jesus. My point is the desire to change the culture is a result of the pursuit of Jesus. Yes we will have cities transformed, but a city transformed won’t lead to loving God more.
Cultural transformation resulted from the Welsh Revival, but it wasn’t enough to sustain it. A 2001 census showed that slightly less than 10% of the Welsh population are regular church goers. I believe they lost their first love.
4 – Missions. I am a whole hearted missions fan. I believe a mission minded church is more than just a giving church, it’s a sending church. They raise up missionaries in their own backyard. They foster people into soul winners, my favorite kind of people. Let me be the first to say there are plenty of soul winners out there that have lost their first love. To these people winning a soul gets them a big pat on the back for a good performance. To some a soul is just another notch in the belt, where’s the love in that? Mission trips doesn’t necessarily mean people will be ardently feverishly in love with Jesus. They might come back more steeped in humanism than ever before.
Missions is a result of getting so close to the heartbeat of Jesus yours begins to beat with it.
What is vital for an amazing ministry is the true Bread of Heaven, Jesus. That starts with just one heart, yours!
Paul puts it best and eloquently in Phillippians 3 and particularly verse 8 –
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.