Read Revelation 2:1-7
1 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6 But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
7 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God. (NLT)
It is so easy for a virtue to become a vice. The church at Ephesus was in a hostile place, a centre of pagan worship. Yet it had stuck to the truth of the Christian faith. It had not surrendered to false teaching or weak compromise. They could spot out a heresy at twenty paces and were not sucked in by phoney apostles.
So far so good. But in the midst of all their dogged orthodoxy they were not practising love. It may well be that they loved ‘truth’ but in doing so had forgotten to actually love real live people and in turn failed to love God. For them, perhaps, God had become a mere object of belief rather than a person in warm relationship with them. This church had become famous for its rejection of falsehood rather than its embrace of faith and hope and love.
Elsewhere, Jesus says our primary witness to the world is our love of one another. Our sometimes passionate and fierce doctrinal debates will not bring others to faith, even though such debates may be an occasional part of our church life. Correct ideology will not of itself cut through. Truth needs to be married to observable love otherwise it curdles into cold correctness.
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In all our talk of loving the gospel, or loving the Scriptures, or loving the truth, let’s not forget to love actual human beings.