Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Pros and Cons (08/14/14)
TITLE: The Fatal Flaw
By Ashley Lambert
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I can’t remember where I heard that phrase, but it’s a good one. It describes the progression of the believer who works so hard for Christ they forget to love Him. The work that should draw the believer closer to Jesus becomes a burden and the “doing” eventually gets in the way of building a relationship with Him.
“Run around, run down, run away”. It could easily describe the believers in Ephesus. In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus gives a list of pros and cons to the church of Ephesus. Actually, it’s more like pros and a singular con. To summarize, the Ephesians are commended for their diligent work, longsuffering, perseverance and hatred of sin. But, they were chastised for a rather significant flaw: They had forsaken their first love. Jesus warned that, if the Ephesians did not repent, He would snuff them out entirely, regardless of their good deeds. We have to be on our guard. Working for Jesus without having a solid relationship with Him is a breeding ground for desertion. It’s a common occurrence in the ministry. I can specifically recall the first time I helplessly watched as a hard-working believer stopped loving Christ.
I always admired him. He boldly witnessed to kids at our school and was a devoted youth group leader. He even performed Christian rap. With his baseball cap turned sideways, he donned his baggy jeans, oversized jersey, and dangling neck chain (complete with a very visible cross), and spouted out powerful and Godly lyrics from the mic. This young, fiery Latino named David knew his purpose in life. And he was sprinting in pursuit of his goal to glorify God, a seemingly unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
But, after a few years of ministry, something strange happened. Suddenly, he stopped coming to church. He always seemed so solid. But, now he was a no-show. Never at youth group, never in a Sunday morning service with his faithful mother. Gone, just like that.
A mutual friend told me that David was having issues, so we went to visit him at his apartment. As we entered the living room, my gaze immediately fell on a slew of beer bottles, drug paraphernalia and a gun. The strong, passionate David I once knew was not the man who stood before me in that half-empty, unkempt apartment in the ghetto. I kept staring into his face as we talked, searching for a spark, a flicker, something that remained of the old David, but I found nothing. He was jittery, anxious. His speech was slurred. He said he was afraid that someone would break into his apartment at night, so he slept with a gun under his pillow. At one point, when our friend was out of hearing distance, David looked at me with heart-wrenchingly sad, bloodshot eyes, and whispered, “I’m so ashamed for you to see me like this”.
My friend and I tried to minister to David, speaking the same words of encouragement that David used to speak to others. But, he couldn’t receive it.
Finally, David opened up to us about what had been the breaking point in his walk with Christ.
He had made some connections and was scheduled to rap at some huge Christian event. I guess his demo had landed into the hands of some influential people, and he was going to get his big chance. But, it never happened. Something fell through. He got to the venue, and they told him he wasn’t performing. His hopes had been crushed. And he hadn’t recovered.
David never returned to Christ. But why? Why was David, who seemed so solid, overwhelmed by such a seemingly small setback? I can summarize his demise in one phrase: He had forsaken his first love.
He, like the Ephesian believers, was a diligent worker, always pitching and catching, always willing to do what was necessary to advance the gospel. He loved Jesus. But he loved the idea of becoming a big-time Christian rapper more. Jesus was displaced with a dream of grandeur, and David’s faith was uprooted at the first sign that his dream was not going to be realized. Suddenly, following Jesus wasn’t worth the effort anymore. “Run around, run down, run away.” David had a lot of good things going for him. But all it took was one “con” to pull him away from the Lord: He had forsaken his first love.
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