““To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’”
Revelation 2:1-7 NKJV
There have been seasons, in every aspect of my life where I have found myself doing things rote, performing tasks with no passion and no emotion. I did them out of habit. In those situations, I often did just what I needed to do, and little else. I certainly did not seek to sacrifice.
Even with things I once loved, the novelty wore off, and I had lost my first love, that moment of discovery.
Jesus wrote to the church at Ephesus expressing the good things that the church had done, making mention of their good works, of their discernment in dealing with teachers and those who called themselves apostles. They had taken the words of Paul delivered to the elders of the church at Ephesus to heart. He had called the elders of the church to Miletus to exhort and to are them.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
Acts 20:28-29 NKJV
When I think of leaving ones first love in the modern church, I find myself inevitably thinking of all the different things we have managed to place between ourselves and God. The church today has become a body with diverse passions, as many have chosen to replace the love and devotion to God, with the headlong pursuit of control of the culture.
For many this new love has surpassed the love that is die the Lord and the commission that He has given us. We rationalize our departure by lying to ourselves and thinking that seeking to participate exclusively in the public sphere is doing the Lord’s work. In reality, we are like the Ephesians, having lost the zeal for the Gospel, and thusly underestimating its power.
As we see the dilution of the commitment to the mission in the church, it has carried down to the single follower of Jesus. Many a Christian has seen their desire for God grow cold. The assembly has turned from a place to meet God to a place to network, in the battle for the culture.
All too often, the leadership of a body of believers can have a profound impact on the passion of those in the church. With this I mind, I think back to the letters to Timothy, who would be the pastor of the church at Ephesus.
“This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
I Timothy 1:18-20 NKJV
One can sense from the text of I and II Timothy, that this young man was reluctant, lacking the zeal of his spiritual father. We know that Timothy came from a multigenerational Christian home, and that may have been a factor. I have often found that those who follow Christ in families where many have gone before, tend to not have the passion for God as compared to the first to come to faith in the family.
Like a ink stamp, freshly charged, the first impression is the deepest, but each successive is a bit lighter with each further stamp.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is full of admonitions to live the Christian life. In light of the warning in Revelation chapter two, one can get a good sense of the purpose behind Paul’s admonitions. Through the letter to the Ephesians, Paul exhorts them and reminds them of the great love the Lord Jesus has for them, and he great price paid for such vast riches those who believe have in Christ.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, the letter to the church at Ephesus is relevant to us today, both in the corporate body, and individually. If you are one who has left your first love, let this be the day that you seek the Lord anew. Push aside all those things that have caused your love to grow cold.
Be reminded that God so loved you, that He sent His Son to die for your sins. His passion for you has not waned. We have been given a great commission to take the Gospel to the world. Let us be excited about such a great salvation. People can tell when the bringer of the Good News is halfhearted.
“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV
He has loved us from the foundation of the world, and will love us in to the new world to come. Be built up on that love, having Himself as a foundation. You may be one facing issues in life, perhaps these issues have so blocked your view of God, that you cannot see that He is more than able to deal with whatever situation in which you face.
But He is able.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV