Lazy Love - Church in the Doctor's Office #1

Bible Book: Revelation  2 : 1-7
Subject: Church at Ephesus; Church; Love, Missing; Love for Jesus
Series: Your Church in the Doctor's Office
[Editor's Note: Dr. Vince Hefner begins a series of sermons on The Seven Churches in Asia, but he wisely entitles the series: "Your Church in the Doctor's Office." It certainly gets the attention of the listeners. You can find all seven sermons by searching un Sermons and then Series: Your Church in the Doctor's Office.]
Introduction

(Dr. Hefner entered the pulpit to begin this series wearing a doctor’s white jacket with his name on it. This had been specially prepared for the beginning this sermon series. He had a stethoscope around his neck. He preached the entire sermon in the jacket, but removed the stethoscope before beginning the sermon.)

When I received my Doctor’s degree my daughter’s were very young. One day an adult asked one of them if I was really a doctor. Without hesitation my daughter responded, “He certainly is!” The man asked her, “Well, what kind of doctor is he?” She replied, after thinking about the question for a moment, “He’s the kind that can’t help anybody!” Of course, my daughter was comparing my Doctor of Ministry degree to that of a medical doctor, and she knew I couldn’t treat anyone with a physical illness.

The practice of medicine is one of the great achievements and blessings of mankind. I read about a man with a hearing problem who finally went to the doctor to have his hearing tested. The man needed help because of the inability to hear the most basic things in his world. After the examination the doctor was able to fit the man with a hearing aid that was almost invisible by sight. The doctor told the man to come back in 30 days for a checkup.

After 30 days had passed, the man returned to the doctor’s office and told the doctor the hearing aid was a great success. He added that he was able to hear things he hadn’t heard in years. The doctor asked his patient, “What does you family think about your new hearing?”

“Oh,” the man replied, “I haven’t told my wife and kids about the hearing aid, but I have changed my will three times in the last month!”

The ability to hear what is being said makes a big difference in a person’s life. This is even more important when it comes to what Jesus is saying to you and your church. In the Book of Revelation we discover an examination of seven churches completed by The Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Dr. Jesus checks out the condition of these churches and you can be sure He does not need for them to get a second opinion! No illness within the church will be missed by this Doctor. No person will be turned away because the Doctor is never out of His office.

Imagine if you will a big waiting room with seven churches waiting on Jesus to give them their spiritual checkup. In our society, we go to the doctor and wait in a room until we are called by name, and you get up and wait in another room until the doctor arrives. We like our privacy when we are discussing our health. In 1996 HIPAA, which means Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was signed into law. Basically, this law was designed to protect the privacy of the patient concerning is or her medical information.

However, when we read the Scripture we see the Great Physician examining these seven churches and He wants everyone to know the condition of the others. How do you evaluate a Church? By the size of the buildings? By the number of activities in that church? Do you evaluate a church by the worship service attendance? Examining these issues will tell you something about a church, but you need more detailed examine to find out the real condition of a church fellowship. Only Jesus can accurately and honestly inspect each Church and know its true condition, because only Jesus can see the internal as well as the external.

Each church member is called to hear “what the spirit says to the churches.” The reason is not to embarrass a church in the presence of others, but to learn from health or lack of health in the church how to serve and honor Christ properly. Also, we are to learn what we are not to do in order to avoid bringing dishonor on the name of Jesus.

As we look at these seven churches over the next several weeks, I want you to see if you see yourself in good or not so good health when it comes to serving the Lord in the church. We must take heed to what the “spirit says to the churches,” and if we discover that our attitudes, words or actions are making us spiritually unhealthy, we need to listen to the Doctor and make changes.

The first church that gets called out of the waiting room is the Church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a magnificent city. It was the capital of 16 Roman provinces of Asia and one of the largest and wealthiest cities. It was a city of political power, for the Romans wanted to see this city succeed. It was a “melting pot” for people around the world to come and live. It was a financial power because its placement between the East and the West made it accessible by land and by sea. The Romans wanted this city to hold religious intrigue for the rest of the world. They wanted different religions to meld together and blend all thoughts into one. The Romans worshipped the fertility goddess Diana and a temple, considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world, had been built in her honor.

It was in this city that our Lord wanted a church, and not just any church - a church to reach out with the “Good News” of Jesus Christ to a people who thought they already had the answers to time and eternity.

This church had received some of the best leadership known in the Christian world. The Apostle Paul had served this church, so had Timothy, and the Apostle John. The Church of Ephesus had to make a decision that every church must make in light of its location in a town or city. “Do we take on the characteristics of the city, or do we want the city to take on the characteristics of Christ?” We need to ask this same question in our Church!

This is the first Church that our Lord calls out to be examined. I want you see how a hard working church can do all the right things, but do them for the wrong reasons. You see, the Church of

Ephesus had forgotten how to love. They were willing to work, but they were lazy in love, and when you lose your first love, you will cease to be an effective, Christ-honoring, healthy church.

Jesus calls the Church in Ephesus to examined, and through His examination we note some important things.

  • Diagnosis

Diagnosis is used to identify a problem or an illness. The diagnosis is brought about through a series of tests and from those tests a conclusion is reached.

  • Prognosis

A prognosis is the forecast of likelihood of the patient’s recovery from the illness and the probable outcome from the disease.

  • Metamorphosis

This is a process of change from within, and this is left up to the individual. If you are willing to follow what the Great Physician tells you to do, you will have a positive outcome – a divine led metamorphosis to health.

I. Diagnosis Of The Church That Is Hard At Work

The first part of the examination was great! Look what Jesus says to them

A. They Were Active In Their Community

“I have seen your hard work.”

The Church in Ephesus was engaged in the community and city. Whenever they saw a need, they reached out to help. First, you must “grow where you are planted” to reach the lost for Christ. The Church of Ephesus did not see the mission field as being somewhere else far away. They knew they had a purpose right where they were, and they were pro-active in filling that need. It is interesting that some Christians will go half way around the world to do a ministry for a week or two, but will not witness to a next door neighbor! If FBC Cherryville is to be what Christ wants us to be, we must start right where we are! We must constantly ask our Lord, “How can we share the Gospel to this community?”

B. They Were Realistic In Their Expectations

“I have seen your patient endurance”

When they started a new ministry they were patient with it. They didn’t expect to reap a harvest immediately after the seeds of ministry had just been sown. They realized that “overnight crops” do not exist. It is so easy to quit when you don’t see the results that you want to see when you want to see them! The Church of Ephesus was not that way. They were patient with new ministries, and they supported them with their time and their talents.

C. They Were Consistent With Their Theology

“You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not.”

How do you examine someone’s claim of faith? First, you look at their words to make sure what they say matches up to Christ. Second, you look at their lives to make sure their lives are in line with God. Third, the rules apply to everybody in the same way!

D. They Were Positive In Their Adversity

“You have patiently suffered for me without quitting”

These people had the right attitude for ministry. When they experienced suffering while doing the Lord’s work, they kept going – and, they didn’t expect others to suffer while they sat on the sidelines. There is a big difference! When you suffer for yourself, you are the center of your world. When you suffer for the Lord, you know that you belong to Him and what you are doing is for His glory and not your own! These people would not quit when the going got tough. One emotion that all of us have experienced is the desire to quit something, especially if things are not going well. Once you begin to act on this emotion, you will probably continue it for the rest of your life.

This is a great examination, so for. But remember, Jesus is giving a complete examination, and the examination is not over yet.

E. They Were Lazy In Their Love

“But I have this complaint against you…”

“You don’t love me or each other as you did at first”

How do you lose love? How do you fall out of love?

1. First, you forget answered prayer.

Before you were saved you knew you were lost. You prayed for Jesus to forgive you and come into the right relationship with Him. It is so exciting when we are saved because we know that we are loved by God. This same principle holds true with relationships. Didn’t you pray for God to put the right person in your life to marry? I know I did! I was so excited when I knew God answered my prayer for my wife. I was excited because I knew God was interested in my life, who I would marry, where I would work, etc… Be grateful for answered prayer!

2. Second, you forgo grateful behavior.

You get into the daily grind and forget to honor God with what He has given you spiritually, financially, physically, and emotionally. You will out of love if you forget to be grateful to your Lord and to your spouse.

3. Third, you forge ahead with what you want without considering what God wants.

This also happens in you relationship with your spouse and other loved ones.

4. Fourth, you feel the grass is greener somewhere else.

You stop loving God because you feel that someone else deserves your love more than God! This is also true with an earthly relationship.

If you want greener pasture, water your own lawn!

II. The Prognosis Of The Church That Is Lazy At Love

What does Jesus say to correct the problem that He has just diagnosed? I want to say that this was not shocking news to the Church. When you read Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, you will see at least twenty references to love! They had symptoms of being lazy at love for a long time! Jesus told them to do some important things to get over this spiritual sickness!

A. Repent

To repent means to change your mind about how you are living; and in this case, it meant to change one’s mind about how to love properly.

B. Remember

“Do the works you did at first.”

They knew what they were supposed to do. They didn’t need to learn it, they already knew it - they just needed to put what they already knew into practice.

C. Regret

“I will come and remove your lampstand”

Jesus was telling them that unless they changed the prognosis was not good. Without correction, this church was going to no longer have HIS authority, HIS blessings, or HIS presence. Don’t think that just because you have a church building, stained glass windows, singing and preaching that Jesus is present.

III. The Metamorphosis of the Victorious Church

What must we do to have a change in our lives? It is something you can do, if you are willing!

A. Hear What Needs to be Heard

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen.” What or who are you listening to in your life? Can you hear the Lord speaking to you? Is what you are hearing from the world? Is it something that will honor Christ?

B. Do What Needs to be Done

“Understand what he is saying to the churches”

Are you willing to add the things to your life that will bring you closer to Christ? Are you willing to prayer for direction? Are you willing to be faithful to His cause? Are you willing to activate your love for Him and for His glory?