Bec and I have been married for ten years now. Man, the time has flown. We've had some really good times over the ten years. From living off of $2 tombstone pizzas for the first year of marriage (a true and, looking back on it, somewhat gross story) to having each of our three children, life has been good. I don't know about all of you out there in Blogsville though, but it seems that sometimes you can get to a point where you get into routines. It's not that you've changed and it's not that your spouse has changed, but you get focused on the duties and not on the drive for the duties. I think that's what happened to the church in Ephesus.
You see, I've been studying prophecy A LOT recently to do a series on Wednesdays at our church and was reading Revelation 2:1-7 again when it stood out to me in a different light. The Ephesian church was a GOOD church. I mean, they seemed to be doing it all right; they worked hard for the ministry, they ferreted out false prophets, and even went through trials for the Lord's sake. They seem like the ideal church until you get to verse 4 "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love." What does "leaving your first love" mean? Let me give you a few thoughts that hit me today on this issue.
1. You forgot your love
Those of you that are married out there, do you remember the dating years when you couldn't help but enjoy being with your to-be-spouse. You know, when you would get that feeling of a knot in your throat whenever he/she came around? I remember when I first started dating Bec she liked my eyes and didn't like my glasses so I walked around blind as a bat so she'd see my beautiful eyes. Why would I do something that ridiculous? Because I loved Becky and would do anything for her. I didn't think twice about it regardless of the inconvenience all because I loved her.
What about God? Remember when you first accepted Christ? You wanted to do whatever he said. Baptism? Check. Witnessing? Check. Reading the Bible? Check. No matter what it was you were willing to do it. Why? Because you loved God. Have you forgotten that love? If you're going through marital counselling one of the first things they say to do is to remember what attracted you to your spouse in the first place. I'd say it's good for us to do the same with the Lord.
2. You replaced your love
One thing seems universally true the more I know about people - everybody loves something. We have people in our church that love everything from Nascar to Nabs (that's those orange peanut butter filled crackers for you non-North Carolinians) and everything in between. The reality is whomever you are, you will love something. Many people don't try to forget their love for God, it's just that other things become more important. Their love for God gradually becomes replaced with love for something else. What did the Ephesians allow to replace their love for God? Doing stuff for God. That's right, you can love serving God more than God himself (think Martha vs. Mary). That is a dangerous place to be, for God says we must return or else the Lord will snuff out the light of the church (Rev. 2:5). That's how serious it is in God's mind.
3. You removed your love
In these days of growing apostasy, I unfortunately have to deal with those that remove their love for God deliberately. I know some that have chosen to turn their back on God. They don't remember the God that reached out to them when they were lost in the depths of sin or the God that is always reaching out to help and love them. They expect the love of God without affording any reciprocation of love back to Him. They fail to see the "goodness of God leading them to repentance" in favor of living for themselves.
In all of these areas our response should be clear. John continues in Revelation 2:5 to say "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works..." We must remember that we are serving a loving God that longingly desires our love in return. We must repent of our selfishness, pride, and busyness that causes us to replace our love for the Lord. Finally we must return to the first works of serving by love for God, not just love for a church, preacher, or the work's sake alone. Only when we fall in love with Lord again and sit at his feet then can we have the life that God intends, a life of joy. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 16:11 "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."