D.A. Horton is the Lead Pastor of Reach Fellowship in Long Beach, CA. He is also the author of a number of resources including Letters of the Revelation: To the One Who Conquers. In that study, he explains how, through his marriage, he came to understand the Church of Ephesus better.
The video is above, and the full transcript is below.
I can sympathize with the Church in Ephesus.
I think about when I was busy in ministry, full-time in seminary, full-time in the pastorate, traveling to different events, doing different gospel rap concerts. I was going through the motions and I remember my wife calling me into our bedroom one day after we put the kids to bed.
She said, “I feel like I’m in a loveless marriage with you. You’re doing all the right things, Damon. You’re going to work on time, you’re paying the bills, you’re shepherding the people of God, you’re giving yourself for the work of the mission. But Damon, you’re forsaking me. You’re not loving me with your whole heart. You’re just going through the motions. We’re not communicating anymore. We’re not praying together. We’re not reading the Bible together. We’re not going out on dates anymore. Do you still love me?”
She called me out, and praise God the Holy Spirit broke my heart to listen to the cry of my wife. That night I wept and I repented, and then she even confessed her wrong-doings and the bitterness that she had against me in her heart, saying, “I was growing cold against you. And I was separating myself against you. And when you would preach your sermons I would say, ‘Yeah, but he doesn’t love me that way.’”
So my heart sympathizes with the Church in Ephesus. As my wife and I worked through that tension, we had to do exactly what Jesus said to the Church in Ephesus.
We remembered, first and foremost. Remembered what? We remembered why God brought us together. We had a burden and a deep desire to see the gospel communicated in the heart language of the inner city. And I felt that God was calling me to plant a church and my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, said, “I want to come alongside this journey. I feel like God is calling me to come alongside you and help you in that process.” We remembered that.
In addition, we confessed and we repented for the works that we were getting so caught up in being busy about, that we neglected our own marriage.
And finally, guess what? We returned. We returned back to the practices that we had early on when we were courting and early on in our marriage. We began to read the Bible together. We began to pray in the morning and the nighttime together. We watched God answer our prayers, and He consistently drew us closer and finally we went back out on date nights. We enjoyed the time together.
This is the beautiful illustration for the reality of what Jesus is saying to His bride. Why does this illustration connect so well? The Church marriage is the perfect illustration for the gospel. When you look at the Church in Ephesus and how she became loveless, Jesus is pursuing and crying out to the Church in Ephesus, “Return to Me. I am faithful to you. Be faithful in your heart to Me.”