“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” Revelation 2:4
Well, here we are. Ephesus: Doctrinally sound, hard-working, willing to confront false teachers. Yet, Jesus had a rebuke for this church. They had left their first love. What might that mean? After all, they were doing ALL the right things.
First of all, let’s address the seriousness of this warning, when our Lord says He has something against us, it is good sense to listen close. To be failing in such a way is a very serious matter.
It’s really not hard to figure out what the first love is. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. Friends, this is the most important thing; Jesus told us that when he spoke those words.
It frankly doesn’t matter how many good works we do, or how successful we are in them; if they are not first and foremost motivated by our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and following that our love for other humans, then they are meaningless.
We might say that the bodies and minds of this church were in it but not their hearts. Over the next few days, I will offer some more specifics and thoughts that might help us understand how this might actually play out in a local congregation.
In the meantime here is a quote from a John McArthur sermon on the church eat Ephesus. I thought it put the issue at Ephesus in stark and clear words:
How would you like it, ladies, if your husband came to you some time and said, “I don’t love you anymore, but nothing will change?” Is that enough? “I’ll still earn a living. I’ll still eat with you, sleep with you, drive with you. I’ll still father the children and be your husband. Nothing will change, I just don’t love you.” Devastating. How would you feel if your wife came to you and said, “I don’t love you, but nothing will change”? In a sense we couldn’t imagine saying that to the Lord. “Lord, I don’t love You like I once did. That’s gone. But I just want You to know I’ll still come. I’ll still work. I’ll still sing. I’ll still give. I’ll still even believe the truth. I just don’t love You.” We wouldn’t say that, but the Lord knows if it’s true.
Is that what our hearts are telling the Lord?