After a week travelling through the tantalizing world that is Turkey, our journey brought us to Ephesus (modern Selcuk). The excavated ruins of this ancient city contain the largest collection of Roman ruins east of Italy. Here Paul, Timothy, John and Priscilla and Aquila all labored for the Lord Jesus to establish an Aegean Sea base for the Gospel. The travel and trade routes of the Meander River Valley served as conduits for the Christian message of redemption to reach inland throughout Asia. From its harbor the Gospel message spread around the Mediterranean. Like the storks that still fly from Egypt to Selcuk every April to nest atop minarets and monuments and then depart again in September, Paul, the Roman citizen, moved freely to spread the good news.
Nearing the end of a tour it is natural for tiring travellers to inquire about the degree of difficulty involved in walking through such a vast site as Ephesus. I was happy to advise them that 'it was all downhill from here' since we would be entering Ephesus from its upper, sacred entrance, and moving down the gently sloping Curetes Street to the Library of Celsus and follow the road left to the 24 000 seat theatre.The direction of our walk was symbolic of the worship in Ephesus when John wrote Revelation.
The Ephesians Christians were blessed and bathed in God's love (Ephesians 1:4-5; 1:15; 3:17-19; 5:1-2). Paul's last words to them in his epistle were, 'Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus with an undying love.' (Ephesians 6:24). Like a warm Turkish summer, when the Ephesian Christians first believed and their spiritual fathers Paul and Timothy pastored them, their spiritual barometer registered red-hot heat wave temperatures.
Jesus kept a record of their spiritual temperature. Forty years later he said, 'I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.' They were doing the deeds and defending the doctrines but underneath the Spirit was cold and weak. It was all downhill! 'Remember the height from which you have fallen.' How to stop that spiritual slide and restore heartfelt fervor for Jesus? 'Repent and do the things you did at first.' Like John Newton confess, 'I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be' and then, before an open Bible, ask the Lord not just for a believing heart, but for a burning heart (Luke 24:32). We need both light and heat to live for the Lord!
In the communion of the saints
Is wisdom, safety and delight;
And, when my heart declines and faints,
It's raised by their heat and light.