JESUS ASKS VINE STREET: “Where’s the Love?”

Ouch! Talk about some “in your face” preaching! These words of Jesus come from the last book in the Bible: Revelation. Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation are the visions of Jesus delivered to the 7 churches of the world by a prophet named John. In Chapter 2, Jesus says to the church in Ephesus: “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Interestingly enough, the church at Ephesus was one of Paul’s most significant Jesus communities, and his letter to this church is in the New Testament as “Ephesians.” It’s clear that Paul treasured this church and that it had important standing in the secular world as a powerful voice for the Jesus movement. In that sense, it probably wasn’t much unlike our little Jesus community at Vine Street. Both churches have a legacy of strong faith and service to the needy in their communities. Both churches have solid institutional structures and strong lay leadership. They are both pillars in their communities and respected for their devotion to the way of Jesus. But, alas, both the church at Ephesus and the church at Vine Street are lacking in the one most important quality of a Jesus community: the unconditional, all-forgiving, never-ending love of Jesus Christ. These churches, like so many others, begin to look more like a good civic club rather than a school of the love of Jesus. Jesus knew well this danger. Jesus never started an institutional church movement. He never built a church building. He never made decisions by committee and he never ever called a board meeting. He could have. But he didn’t. Jesus knows what happens when a church loses that one most important quality that distinguishes it from all the other “do-good” clubs and organizations in secular society ~ the love! You might be wondering what I’m doing reading the Book of Revelation. Every other Thursday at the Eberhard Village assisted living center, I help lead a group of wise and faithful ladies in Bible study. This Thursday we started studying the Book of Revelation. Ironically, perhaps, they call themselves the “Circle of Love.” And it’s a good name! For certainly, they love each other with the same divine agape love that Jesus loves them with. But the truth is, ladies, Jesus wants more than that. And from all of us! Jesus came into the world and spread his love across all the earth so that somebody (anybody?) would decide to live like him. Jesus’s plan rests on the hope that some small community of devoted and faithful followers would actually decide to throw the world’s ways aside … leave judgment for God and others, and make their default response to every single child of God on the planet ~ unconditional, all-forgiving, and never-ending love. That’s why, in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Revelation, Jesus praises the church at Ephesus for being patient, for enduring, for calling out heresy, and for claiming the truth of Jesus. He does the exact same for this little church at Vine Street. But it’s also why he has something against us.

  • Let us not pretend that we are everything that Jesus calls us to be.
  • Let us not deny that we still lack the love that Jesus calls us to.
  • Let us not settle for anything less than giving to all people the love the Jesus gives to us.
  • Let us not be content with looking like a “do-good” secular club or organization.
  • Let us not put this off any longer!
What if we had one chance to live a life? What if we knew that our one life was redeemed by the love of Christ? What if we also knew that our Creator wanted nothing less than for us to take that love that we received from the Son and to share it with everyone else? Well, church, we know all of that! So today … let’s love. Let’s make a choice to turn from the ways of the world that teach us to make an entitlement out of our propensity to judge others and to determine their worth. Let’s throw all that in the rubbish heap where it belongs. Just for today, let us make love our default response to every person and situation. And let it all start right here at Vine Street … a little “mustard seed” of a church that Jesus is calling to more love. Let us begin by loving each other unconditionally, all-forgiving, and never-ending. And then, let’s share that love with the whole world!    
Not only will it bless others, but it will bless us most of all.  And then, there will be one less thing that Jesus can hold against us!
One life ~ One love ~ One chance
Casting the ways of the world aside and taking up the call to love like Jesus,                                                                 
I am, in His name, Pastor Bob