“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.” Revelation 2:1-3 (NKJV)
Notice all the good things Jesus has to say about this church. They are hard and consistent workers. They strive for holiness. They are doctrinally sound. They have the discernment necessary to recognize and reject false teaching. By all outward appearances, this is a great church. Yet with all the good things about this church, there is still something that’s not as it should be.
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4 (NKJV)
From all outward appearances the church in Ephesus looks great, but something was still wrong. They were guilty of something that is often hard to detect in ourselves and all but impossible to detect in others. But to our Lord who knows what goes on inside our hearts, as well as what our outward acts are, the problem was obvious. They had inwardly laid aside their love for Him, and exchanged it with outward labor. Jesus here is telling them that this simply was not acceptable because He expects loving devotion from those who follow Him. In light of all that they had done and were doing we have to wonder if this really is such a big deal. Well…
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)
This passage always amazes me. 1 Corinthians 13 is famously known as the love chapter. While later verses tell us what love in action looks like, these verses tell us the importance of love. We could basically sum up these three verses by saying that without love nothing we do matters. Without love nothing we do is of any benefit to us. Loveless Christianity just isn’t acceptable to Jesus because He expects loving devotion from those who follow Him. While we usually apply these verses toward our love for others we can also accurately apply these toward our love for Jesus.
Answer this question, what is the greatest commandment? I bet you know that the answer to that question is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus said that on those two commandments hung all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:40). What do we do if we’ve drifted in our love for Jesus?
“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.” Revelation 2:5 (NKJV)
We need to remember and repent. We need to remember a time when our acts of devotion were motivated by our love for Jesus. He wants us to remember this, and let this memory lead us to repentance for our current loveless service. Jesus wants us to serve Him because we love Him.
Jesus says says if they don’t do this, if they don’t go back to their first love then He will remove their lampstand. If you look at Revelation 1:20 you see that the lampstand represents the church itself. So Jesus basically tells them that if they don’t remember and repent He will shut the church down. Jesus would rather there not be a church in Ephesus than for there to be a loveless church. That is pretty strong stuff. We have to see how huge it is that Jesus would rather a church die than for it to live on with and promoting loveless Christianity. Loveless Christianity is not acceptable to Jesus no matter how much we do because He expects loving devotion from those who follow Him.
So, have you drifted in your love for Jesus? If yes, does that answer bother you? It should. We should always be bothered when we recognize we are drifting from Jesus. Take some time today and pray through these specific requests.
Jesus, please show me if I’ve drifted in my love for you.
Jesus, please show me how to restore my love for you.
Jesus, please do whatever it takes to restore my love for you.