I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors. Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Ephesus speaks, and it is the language of the doctrinally orthodox and the spiritually dead. They fell in love with the Risen Lord in the beginning, but somewhere along the way, they lost their love and thought themselves holy because they believed all of the right things, and didn’t sin too much, but missed the most important thing of all: Jesus Christ.
I sat down with one of my best friends, who had since become a priest and the founder of a religious order. I asked how this elite seminary was that he studied in and he said something that shocked me. “It is flawlessly orthodox and rigorous in instruction, but I can see clearly that they are hiding behind their orthodoxy.”
Curious and anxious all at the same time, I asked, “Hiding from what?” His observation is the echo of the ghosts of Ephesus: “They are hiding from the Holy Spirit. He’s too much for them, too wild, and it is scary to follow Him. So they hide by being right all of the time.”
How many Catholics work, labor and endure to make the world better, more moral, and think that is enough to satisfy God’s justice? How many charlatans have the orthodox chased away from pulpits and newspapers, no matter how many letters are after their names? Works, labor, endurance, testing, discernment, and even suffering, but they have not love.
Sounds like Catholics who know the truth, who shout the truth, but forgot to love the Truth. He who is the Truth was forgotten while we argued in shrilled tones at one another. We stopped loving one another, stopped loving our enemies, and prided ourselves on the litmus tests we administer to those who call themselves “Christian” or “Catholic.” When we cease to love the Truth Himself, we live the gravest lie: “If anyone says, ‘I love God’ but hates his brother, he is a liar and the truth is not in him.”
Ephesus speaks, and it is with a loveless rationality that confuses correctness with righteousness. In running after morals for morality’s sake we lost the very heart of morality, which is to “Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength… Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus wants more than believers. He wants followers. Belief is not enough. We need surrender, entrustment, devotion, and above all us, love.
So if you pride yourself on the correctness of your beliefs and ignore loving one another because it is too messy, too inconvenient, then repent. That’s all you can do. Spend your labor on repentance.
Let he who has ears hear.