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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

God's Desire

Today we read from Revelation 2:1-7. It is one of seven letters which are found in the beginning of the Apocalypse (which means "unveiling" in Greek; or 'revelation'). The Apocalypse is difficult to read because it is a type of literature. Extra canonical (non-Bible) apocalyptic works are not familiar to us. WE do not understand the "rules" of this type of communication. Just like editorials, news stories and commercial ads all have different rules, so do other types of literature.

Once you have read several apocalypses you get a feel for how they are written. In many ways, it is probably necessary to do this in order to get a better feel for what John is writing here.

It could be grounded in a mystical experience of some sort, perhaps on a Sunday (references seem to be liturgical). John had his vision/revelation at church during a eucharist, it seems. Whatever the actual experience, he writes using apocalyptic images. The symbolism is stereotypical to the genre. In addition, the use of Jewish Bible references is constant. There are constant references, paraphrases and allusions to the Jewish Bible---in fact, if you do not know the Old Testament you cannot understand the Apocalypse at all.

One unusual feature is the appearance of seven mini-epistles. The first one, which we read today, is to Ephesus. Each letter includes some sort of evaluation, an exhortation/warning/affirmation and some allusion to the previous vision. In the first letter we have both an affirmation and a stern warning. They are called faithful and orthodox. They are not falling prey to any of the revisionist nonsense or the heretical falsehoods. In fact, they are standing up under pressure and a little persecution. On an objective scale they are champs. 

However, God says, I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. In other words, God does not want us just to be good, He wants us to love Him well.

There are references to their works (repent and do the works you did at first), something I will not reflect on here. (I think I have spoken on that topic one hundred times.) Suffice to say, "love" is not a feeling it is an action, it is manifest in works.

Yet, it is a terrifying message. Too often Christians pat themselves on the back for not bowing to the latest deceit of the unholy trinity (world, flesh, devil). We  think "not" dong this or that is enough. We think that because orthodoxy is important, that it is all that matters.

Today God reminds us that He wants more. He wants the passionate, committed love. He does not want us to let it die down to embers. He does not want us to be satisfied with mediocrity.

He desires our love. This is pretty sublime, the eternal God wants our love! I do not know what the Ephesians did when they heard this. I do know it gives me pause. What was my love for God like in 1976 when I became an energetic Christian? Have I allowed myself to mellow out over the years? It is the sort of verse which makes one take stock.

There is reason to "give ear and listen" for their is life here. everyone who from the tree of life
(yes, that was a reference to Genesis). It is good to be faithful, but it seems God desires more. He wants us to love Him.

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