In Revelation 2, Christ speaks to the church of Ephesus. He basically gives them their report card.
The people in the church of Ephesus possessed impressive credentials. This church body would receive high marks in today’s culture, especially among doctrinally sound churches.
Listen to the praise Christ gives to this body of believers:
"'I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.'" -Revelation 2:2-3
But, even though they hold to correct doctrine, Jesus lets them know that He’s not completely satisfied with the state of their hearts. He puts His finger on the most important issue: the church had left its first love.
"'Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.'" -Revelation 2:4
Wow! They were doing all the right things but for all the wrong reasons.
The Church—the Bride of Christ—can’t carry out all her duties when her heart is somewhere else, and the Bridegroom knows it. Somewhere along the line, these believers had lost their focus. They started placing greater priority on being correct than they did on being in love with the Savior.
Jesus is always about relationships first. Our relationship with Him and our acceptance of His love for us will always lead us to follow Him rather than our own list of rules. Our list of rules may be biblically sound, but a life ruled by rules is a life devoid of love and spiritual passion.
Jesus tells the church at Ephesus how to correct this situation:
"'Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.'" -Revelation 2:5
He gives them a simple threefold strategy for getting back to where they need to be:
Remember when you first met Jesus? You may not have known much theologically, but an incredible transformation happened in your heart.
When I accepted Christ, I remember being so full of joy, even though I didn’t know anything. I went and told my mother that I had just been forever changed by Jesus Christ. The next day, my girlfriend could tell that my heart had been transformed.
I was a different person.
If you are weary, indifferent, or just coasting through life on your theological knowledge of Jesus, maybe you need to rediscover your first love. Maybe you need to repent and let the Holy Spirit reignite your heart with the love of your life, Jesus Christ.
Oh, Lord, please give us hearts that stay true to our first love.
John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.