[Rev. 2:1] “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. [Rev. 2:2] ¶ “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. [Rev. 2:3] I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. [Rev. 2:4] But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. [Rev. 2:5] Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. [Rev. 2:6] Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. [Rev. 2:7] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
John is told to write to seven actual churches. The first one he writes to, Ephesus, is an old familiar friend to New Testament readers. We are introduced to its birth in Acts 19, we read of its maturing in Paul’s Epistle to them, and then track their progress in the letters to Timothy (who was pastoring them).
But sometimes the hardest thing for any church to do is to maintain a heartfelt passion for Christ and His Cause when they’ve been at it for a long time. The Ephesians church had “lost its first love” for Christ. One translation renders this indictment as Ephesus having “abandoned” their first love. They didn’t merely drift from their love for Christ - they intentionally stopped it.
How does a church intentionally cease loving Christ? Love for us in the 21st Century West is a positive feeling. But Biblically, love is something done. Love is shown more than it is felt. And love is shown before it is felt.
This is why Christ calls the Ephesians to return to their former “works” which they “did at first”.
How often do we lose sight of where we should be with Christ as believers but more importantly as a church?
How is your love for Christ? If I could observe your service within, and on behalf of, your local church I could answer that question without exchanging one word with you. Have you lost sight of where your heart should be with Christ? Has your heart been wounded by others within your church and caused you to pull away from serving Christ by serving others within your church? Do you need to overcome your coldness and conquer your growing laxness?
If these questions seem uncomfortable, imagine how the Ephesians felt receiving this letter from Christ via John. Perhaps we should never forget that repentance always takes humility and our humility is one of the key measures of Christian maturity.