As the bus turned the corner, a sign was posted which read: "Ephesus 17 kilometers."
Carmen and I were on our way to visit this biblical city. The night before I read the book of Ephesians, written by Paul. With each kilometer my excitement grew as we approached the city. The church at Ephesus is where the believers had "lost their first love." I found myself traveling through time and surrounded by the remains of an ancient city. This was a moment I will never forget.
Walking among the ruins of the city, I thought of the believers who lived there. Commentators report that Paul wrote this letter from prison. It seems the believers were constantly paying a heavy price for their faith. John, in Revelation, records, "You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love (Revelation 3:3-4)."
Even while losing their first love, the Lord invites them to "repent."
As I looked at the ruins of the theaters and stadiums, I imagined the voices of the spectators. My thoughts were on two things: these early Christians losing their love for God and listening to the many and varied voices of spectators.
Today, many of our churches are in crises. Churches have lost their first love and are listening to the voices of spectators. I encourage California Southern Baptists to remain focused on God's grace and mercy. I also encourage us to turn away and not listen to the voices of spectators, but instead clearly listen to the voice of God Who said, "Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).
I could not find church buildings in Ephesus, but looking around this world, I find the result of their ministry in the lives of Christians who today are committed to sharing the message of God to a lost world. Let's continue to tell the world about Christ. My prayer is that in 100 years our descendants will be able to say California Southern Baptists were faithful.