Scripture: Revelation 2:1-5
As our Church School has led us in the celebration of our heritage during February, we have been acknowledging the contributions that African Americans have made in the field of music.
Music has been called the universal language because it transcends race, ethnicities and cultures. The contributions of our ancestors to the field of music – from the spirituals, to gospel, to jazz, to the blues, to rhythm and blues – are too numerous to name, but I’d like to highlight a few.
The influence of African Americans can be found in all genres of music. From Chuck Berry and Fats Domino’s influence on Rock and Roll, to James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Little Richard’s influence on rhythm and blues, to Arthur Prysock and Nat King Cole’s influence on ballardtiers.
In the days of radio that preceded television and You Tube, the influence was so great that you couldn’t tell the ethnicity of the artist. For years I listened to the music of the Righteous Brothers on the radio and until I saw them on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” I didn’t know they were White.
It was this song “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” written in 1965 by Barry Mann, Phil Spector and Cynthia West that rocketed them to the top of the musical charts. It has since become the most played record in the history of radio. Listen to the first verse:
You never close your eyes when I kiss you, There’s no tenderness like before in your fingertips. Trying hard not to show it, but baby you know it. You lost that loving feeling, you lost that loving feeling, you lost that loving feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone
The Righteous Brothers’ song uniquely captures the sentiment of this text. The revelator is instructed to write to the angel or pastor of the church of Ephesus the words of the text by God; the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (v.1).
God knows, and sees, and feels that there was a noticeable difference in His relationship with the members of the church of Ephesus. In Verse 2, God tells the revelator that He knows the works, and the labors, and the patience of the members of the church of Ephesus, that you could not bear those who were evil and tested those who claimed to be apostles and found them to be liars.
In Verse 3, God says He knows your perseverance and your patience and your labor for my sake and how you have not become weary (v.3). God knew all what they had done for His sake, but nevertheless He says in Verse 4 He had something against them.
They had left their first love They had lost that loving feeling. They were going through the motions of what God required without the feeling that God required. Their works, and their labors, and their patience were loveless acts.
God’s plea to remember from whence they have fallen in Verse 5 is similar to that of the Righteous Brothers. Remember the love they had and the relationship they shared. Their love was a love you didn’t find every day.
There is no better way to describe God’s love for us than a love you don’t find every day. The unconditional, self-giving love of God is a love you don’t find every day.
For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). That’s a love you don’t find every day.
God commended His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Greater love have no one than this that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
That’s a love you don’t find every day. Even though you don’t find it every day, it is available every day.
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead you shall be saved (Romans 10:9). You shall find the love that you don’t find every day.
God’s final plea to the revelator is to tell the members of the church of Ephesus to repent. Repent, He says, in the latter part of Verse 5 and do the first works. In the words of the Righteous Brothers, bring back that loving feeling. Turn from their ways and turn to God’s way. God’s way is the way of love, for God is love (1 John 4:8) and all that God does is out of love.
When we turn from our own ways to the ways of God and when we turn from our selfish ways to the selfless ways of God and when we turn from my present place to the place where I first believed, God will bring back that loving feeling.
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway is the senior pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Ave., in Los Angeles.