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The Ephesus syndrome
- Jacob Ninan
This is a spiritual sickness that is more common that we usually realise. Its symptoms are several - lots of zeal, many activities, perseverance, a highly developed sense of discernment, an uncompromising attitude towards error, not easily giving up, etc. These symptoms make one think that we are not talking about a sickness but a state of vibrant health. But there is another symptom which, along with the others mentioned so far, is the outstanding feature of this sickness. That is a cooling off of the love for Jesus. Read Re.2:2-4.
This last symptom takes away all the positive values the other symptoms could have produced. In other words, a lack of love for Jesus makes all the other virtues without value.
Now let us think of how easily we can catch this sickness. Our own training in this world and the pressure from other Christians compel us to "do more" for Christ. The questions that we often ask ourselves and what others ask us are, "How many souls have you brought to the Lord?", "How many tracts have you given out?", "How many sermons have you preached?", "How many churches have you established?", "How many ...?" Therefore what we usually strive for is to have more of all these things. This is how we judge our success rating.
But the Lord has another basis for rating us. He asks us, "Do you love Me more than these?" (Jn.21:15). He does not want even our obedience apart from our love (Jn.14:15). Even if we burn out our bodies in so-called service for Him, He counts us as nothing if it did not come from love (1Co.13:3).
There is no vaccine against this Ephesus syndrome that can protect us permanently. Our immune system is very weak against this particular germ. Our only protection is through a lifelong vigil against this attack, and a daily dose of love for Christ.