The church of Ephesus described in Revelation 2 had lost the presence of Christ in their midst. I see a parallel in the world today. Some of the hardest people I’ve known are those who’ve worked for welfare departments and social agencies. These were sincere, dedicated workers but the suffering they witnessed daily became just too painful for them to face. The same thing can happen to Christians. Ministers and lay servants alike see so much pain and sin in the people they minister to, they can grow hard. That’s just what Jesus was saying to this pastor at Ephesus: “You once were so tender with others. You had such a love for people, and you listened to them. But now you turn a deaf ear. You sit with them, but you’ve hardened yourself to their cries. You’re doing ministry on a treadmill, with no life. I have no choice but to remove My presence from you.”
Spiritually hungry people won’t stay where Jesus’ presence is not evident. They’re desperate to know His nearness and when they don’t experience it, they go somewhere else to find it. I receive many letters with the same complaint: “I can’t find a church that’s alive with the Lord’s presence.”
I’ve witnessed the tragic backsliding of many Christians who’ve felt this way. They never find a church so they end up sitting at home and watching preachers on TV. They never get any meat in their spiritual diet and over time, a coldness sets in. Soon they’ve abandoned church altogether. They neglect the assembling of the brethren, which Hebrews warns against (see Hebrews 10:25) and they become totally indifferent to Christ and His presence.
I tell you, God won’t hear any excuses from such people. Jesus can be your all-in-all if you continue your personal communion with Him. No matter what condition your church is in, you are to be diligent in giving Him precious time. You must drink deeply of His presence if you want His Word to come alive to you.
In light of Revelation 1-3, every believer must ask himself: “Have my good works—my Bible studies and my service—robbed me of time with Jesus? Do I still hunger for Him as I once did? Or have I lost something?”