Sunday night we took a break from our study in Ephesians to study a different letter in the Bible also sent to the church in Ephesus. This letter is found in the second chapter of Revelation (verses 1-7). It is a letter dictated by the risen Lord to the apostle John as he was exiled on the island of Patmos. He wrote it somewhere between 20-30 years after Paul had written Ephesians and it lets us in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Ephesian church.
Now, Christ praises them for their hard work at preaching the Gospel and representing Christ in their community. He also praises them for careful discernment of whether people proclaiming to be true apostles of Jesus really were. This mean that they knew their scriptures, they held fast to the theological teachings of Paul and others who brought the truth and they were willing to kick out those who talked about a different Jesus or (in the case of the Nicolaitans) those who preached a “freedom” to do whatever debauched activities they wanted to do.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Rev 2:4)
I won’t go into too much more detail as to why or how this happened, and what they had to do (you should have been there Sunday night for all that…). But I don’t think it is hard for us to imagine this happening, or, more likely, simply looking at our own lives to see our own love faded. We all can easily lose our first love, our love for Christ and for the community of faith… even when we are doing good things. Keep in mind that good theology leads to praising God and good works are expressed from our love for God… and we need to find how to keep that balance. I don’t do it well myself… so, rather than wax eloquent about my ideas or my experience, I’d like to point you to an article that does it better:
How the Gospel Does What Religion Cannot by: JD Greear
Here’s the beginning to entice you…
For many years Christianity was wearisome to me. That’s a confession you won’t often hear from the pastor of a growing, evangelical church, but for many years it was true of me. It seems that the list of what “good Christians” should be doing never ended. Evangelism. Missions. Adoption. Radical generosity. Bold prayers. Audacious faith. Every time I turned around someone else was telling me something I should be doing that I wasn’t. So I’d get busy with whatever new program made you a “good Christian.”
And my favorite quote:
The gospel is able to produce in our hearts what religion never could: a desire for God.
Give it a read, (it’s short), and let it do some good for your soul.