In the New Testament, we read about a church that was very hard-working and careful to defend all the correct teachings. They were quick to expose those that tried to teach mistruths. They had maintained their faith during difficult times. They had done all of these things ... yet Jesus told them that if they didn't change, they could no longer be counted as one of his churches!
Jesus said this to the church in Ephesus: "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4). Just as married couples can lose the romance from their relationship, churches can lose their love. They begin to focus on ritual perfection and doctrinal hairsplitting, and they forget their reason for existence. They lose their first love. Instead of being an organism, Christ's body, they become an organization. Rules, regulations, and rituals replace relationships. What gets lost along the way is the loving spirit Christians should have.
Jesus rejects empty rules and hollow rituals. That's not how he envisioned the church, nor what he will allow his churches to be. The church must be a community of love, characterized by a fervent love of God and of fellow man. It is to be an accepting place, not accepting intentional error, but accepting imperfect people.
If you haven't found the church to be this way, don't give up! There are churches out there who remember their first love and continue to live it. There are Christians who work every day at becoming more like Jesus.
If you are a Christian but have forgotten what you are supposed to be about, it's not too late. Jesus said to these Christians in Revelation 2: "Repent and do the things you did at first" (Revelation 2:5). We can go back to our first love, living out that love in our daily lives. We can replace empty ritual with a fulfilling life of love. We can return to being the body of Christ.
The church is an organism, not an organization. It is fueled by love, following the God that is love. We must never forget.
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