There was a church in the New Testament that seemed to possess all the hallmarks of a high powered and well-oiled academic institution. They were situated on the crossroads of commercial and spiritual travel. Their location alone demanded constant vigilance in doctrinal discussion and dissertation. Ephesus had more than a few passersby who claimed true apostolic authority and message.
This church was required to be the truth detector of all such claims and make spot-on assessments concerning the communicator and his message. This church excelled not only at doctrinal discernment, but coupled such academia with tedious enduring labor of putting lives back together when liberated from the occult. They faced the city’s labor guild wrath that labeled them the cause for economic depression. Nonetheless, they persevered through this stigma as well as through the onslaught of satanic defiance.
The Importance of Love
In spite of this stalwart and model example of academia in action, the Lord Jesus had one major concern: The depth to which the Ephesian believers loved their Savior. In all their theological learning, the Lord Jesus slipped from being preeminent in their affection to being merely prominent in their love. He was one of their more important loves but not their most important love. Such is the danger of those who touch on theoretic study of God. Ironically, the object of study becomes subtlety less and less valued during the course of study. It is true that pursuing academic understanding cannot be underestimated, but the unqualified need is to fulfill the foremost commandment.
“Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
In the shadow of this commandment, we find a second commandment, which flows from one’s fully occupied love for God and that is to love one another. We cannot rend the two. Each person we greet, meet, or teach has the resemblance of the image of God and the full deep-seated love of God. We must see people not as projects or duties or necessary stepping-stones for the mature Christian, but rather as endeared clumps of humanity that God has emptied the cupboards of heaven to rescue and secure.
Loving God naturally simmers over to merciful and tender compassion which has all the flavor of the eternally caring resident of heaven. From the soup bowls of our souls, both spiritual family and spiritual non-family need to taste that same spiritual soup on a regular basis.
It is this very recognition that strategically places the pride of one’s soul in the right container. When one’s spiritual field of vision expands to allocate our finite placement in the grand scheme of God’s heart, then we have no leftover room to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.” Instead, we begin to value the gifted spiritual skill-sets of those who have preceded us and those who are currently with us and those who will follow us.
Each organ, limb, and vessel is needed for human function of the physical body. Even the slightest absence of an appendage is deeply felt by remaining body parts. So it is within the spiritual body of Jesus Christ. The worth of each person becomes paramount which then suffocates the germs of competition and jealously.
Keep Our Focus
Subsequently, it follows that we should strive to keep this unifying attitude by maintaining a focus on what is essential. When teaching medical students, we discuss numerous details of physiology, but when the patient is not breathing, there is only one point of interest: their airway. In the spirit of unity, we should do the same. It is vital to keep our focus and concentration upon the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a manner that we never get over the first time we met the Savior.
We cannot lose this polarizing fervor to continually over-emphasize the striking themes of God’s being. We cannot fail to trace his passions through our zealous examination of the details of Biblical exegesis lest we find ourselves lost in the field of research rather than resting in the love of our Savior.