If the spiritual auditors were to arrive at the local church how would they draw up the balance book? Does even the suggestion of that strike you as shocking? Would you be outraged if someone made judgements of a spiritual nature? What would you look for in the final report, perhaps pleased if there were more positives than negatives? If that was the case would you expect a well done? Possibly responsibility for any negatives could be passed on to the leadership, after all simply for an attender or member it would not be reasonable for responsibility to be apportioned in their direction – would it?
The church in Ephesus received such an audit report, Revelation 2.1-7 highlighting eight commendations, each one in an important area of spiritual life. It only had one point on the debit side. ‘But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.’ Rev 2.4 The consequence of this would be the Holy Spirit would withdraw his presence from them and the church would wither and die. The church was called to repent, remember what their first love was like and return to it again and revive the works that their love led them into. The score, good against bad, might have been 8 to 1 but it was still a losing score line. The leadership may have particular responsibility but it was the church as a whole that was being held responsible.
In the same way as the nation had lost their first love in Psalm 85 and incurred God’s anger so that picture is applied to the local New Testament Church. We need to remember what our salvation was like at the beginning. ‘Lord, you were favourable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.’ vv 1-3 But for the psalmist that was in the past. Now they were experiencing the discipline of the Lord. So, he prays, ‘Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again.’ vv 5-6
There were two stages to the revival of the relationship between God’s people and God himself. Firstly, it was the hearing of God’s voice. Secondly, it was repentance. v8 This would lead to the glorying of God and a restored relationship of steadfast love and faithfulness. v10
How do we contribute to our church’s relationship with the Lord?
Would we describe the relationship as one of steadfast love and faithfulness?
Love divine all loves excelling