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. – Rev 2:4-5
The summer before my senior year I embarked on that familiar rite of passage known well by father and son — the search for my first car. It was a welcomed and much needed upgrade after enduring the humiliation of my junior year transportation (let’s just say, it’s difficult to score cool points when you’re pulling into your high school in the family mini-van). I was so desperate for wheels of my own that a Geo Metro was on my short list of possibilities. Thankfully there was divine intervention!
I’ll never forget the moment I laid eyes on her. A 1989 Camaro RS I found at a used car lot on a forgotten stretch of backwoods highway. It was love at first sight. I knew it was the car for me…though my dad wasn’t quite sure. Unfortunately for him, there was little reasoning with a 17 year old who was already daydreaming about cruising down the highway with the T-tops off. Three days later, I’m driving off the lot with the car of my dreams.
That Camaro was in my life for two years until the inevitable took place. No, I didn’t wreck it, I sold it to buy something else that had caught my eye.
How quickly we fall in and out of love with things. I could give you a long list of things I just couldn’t live without that are now sitting in some forgotten place collecting dust. It’s part of our human nature. And it’s a problem when we allow that part of our humanity to creep into our spirituality.
Jesus’ letter to the church of Ephesus scares me. It shows a people that were doing everything right, except one. On the surface they looked like the perfect church, yet at the heart, had forsaken their first love. Jesus clearly pointed it out to them. He said though you are going through all the right motions, you’ve lost the right emotion!
Take a moment and ask yourself, “Does my love for Jesus burn as fervently today as it did before?” Am I as “in love” today with Christ as I was when I first came to know Him? Can you ever remember a time when your love burned more brightly than it does now? Does fervent love describe your experience with Jesus at all?
If the answer to those questions concerns you may I point you to the three responses Jesus asked the church at Ephesus to do to remedy their situation.
1. REMEMBER “there from where you have fallen”
Go back and remember the first moment you laid eyes on your Savior. Remember the spark of new life that entered your soul. Look back and see the fires of your first love.
You can’t live in your past, but it’s good to return to that past God encounter and remember what it was like. Consider how much better it was then than now. Remember the peace, the purity, and the pleasure of that time. Let those memories reveal the contrast between where you are now and how it was back then. Doing so is essential to come to the next step.
Jesus then commanded them, “Repent!” That means to have a change of mind that results in a change of direction. Become inwardly grieved and ashamed at your condition and then carry that grief to the Lord and confess it in His sight. Jesus was inviting them to come and spend time with Him at the altar and make things right. That invitation is still open for us as well.
3) RETURN “and do the first works”
Last, He urged them to go back, step by step, until they came to the place where they took that first misstep and from there endeavor to revive and recover that lost zeal. Return to that place in worship where you were not just singing the words, but you meant them and carried them with you throughout the day. Return to that place in the Word where you could see Him and hear Him in every verse you read. Return to that place of wonder where you stood in awe of His creation and His great love for you.
Jesus’ letter to the church of Ephesus should serve as a warning that it is possible for any of us, great or small in the Kingdom, to be caught up doing all the discipline of Christianity, but no longer be devoted to Christ. Never forget, the heart of Christianity is not discipline, but devotion, and there lies the difference between it being a religion or a relationship.