“Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is special.” (Unknown)
What is true naturally has a spiritual parallel. When we first embrace the gospel it is easy to be captivated with Christ and all he has done for us. But maintaining that devotion over the long haul is not guaranteed. Sliding back from our first love can happen to anyone. It happened to one of the best churches in the first century, and it could well happen to us.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)
Praiseworthy Church – I know your works
In many ways the believers at Ephesus are an example to us all. They were hard working, faithful, holy, doctrinally sound, consistent and strong in the face of persecution. The Lord himself had noticed their efforts and had taken note of all that they were doing for the kingdom of God. The disciples at Ephesus were good people. One imagines that this was a flagship church that others might want to emulate. This was a praiseworthy church.
Problem Church – you have abandoned the love you had at first
Yet Jesus had a problem with the believers at Ephesus. They didn’t love him any more. Their outward religious devotion looked like real passion. But genuine love comes from the heart. “This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” (Matthew 15:8) For Jesus, all their good points were outweighed by their cold hearts toward him. They had abandoned their love for him. The Christian life is all about God loving us and us loving him. If we lose that we have lost everything. This was a problem church.
Priority Church – do the works you did at first
The problem was serious and the need to address it was urgent. Without an immediate rekindling of their love for Jesus, their days were numbered. They were called to recognise their predicament, repent of their loveless religion, and to set about renewing their love for Christ. Forget everything else, falling in love with Jesus again was their number one priority. Christian discipleship is not firstly about good works and service. It is about love. What Jesus wants to know is, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17) Answering that question is our greatest priority.
“Do not be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour in serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11) Stoking the fire of love for Christ is the greatest thing a Christian can do. Let our first love always be our first love.