Rev 2:1-7 states as follows: “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: 'He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, says these things. 'I know your works and your labor and your patience, and how you cannot bear those who are evil. And you tried those pretending to be apostles, and are not, and have found them liars.
“And you have borne, and have patience, and for My name's sake you have labored and have not fainted. But I have against you that you left your first love.
“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and will remove your lampstand out of its place unless you repent. But you have this, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.“
Many bible scholars claim that the verses related to the Churches of Revelation 2 and 3 are successive Church eras. This may or may not be true; that is not important for this article. We do know that those churches were on a postal route in John’s day.
It is certain that there were churches in those cities and perhaps they each had problems that the Christ wanted John to make known to them. It is my opinion that the picture the Christ was trying to paint was one of warning for everyone in the Church down through the ages. With that in mind, let us consider the warning to the Church in Ephesus. In particular, I would like to focus on verse 10 wherein the Church was warned by the Christ that they had left their first love.
Jesus, or Yeshua, or whatever other appellation you might find comfortable to indicate the Christ, certainly was not concerned about someone’s “puppy love,” or even the love of a man for his wife in their beginning. Yes, one of the things men and women need to do as the years go by in their marriage is to remember those early days of their love and to rekindle them often.
But, the Christ was not talking about that. He, the Christ, was referring to something we experience when we first come into the initial blush of understanding of what it is that God is doing with us, and with all of mankind. I’m sure we all remember those days when we saw God’s truths and plan to be so simple that we thought everyone should be able to understand it. We told everyone who would sit still (or we could trap!) everything we knew about this wonderful truth we’d been blessed to know.
Why is recapturing this “first love” important? It obviously is important to God because, having fallen out of that first love, we are warned that He would remove His lampstand from its place unless we repent.
We all know that “repent” means to change direction, to turn around and go the other way. In this context, we are being told to get back to that first love we had. This doesn’t mean that we should abandon the wisdom we have gained since then. We should recognize that people are not swayed by our words but how well we demonstrate Christ living in us. We are not being encouraged to grab everyone we know by the lapels and try to make them understand God’s way.
When we first came into a clear understanding of God’s Way, we did, as Israel did at Sinai, commit unconditionally to walk in “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We committed ourselves to not only pray, but to engage in regular study of the scriptures. We thought on, or meditated on if you prefer, those scriptures we had studied.
We even fasted for the things that are pleasing to God. We ached to know more! As time as progressed, how many of us have let the cares of this world weigh us down, distract us from being “instant in prayer?” Indeed, how many times have we suddenly realized that we have not prayed today at all?
As men and women, we all recognize that first love we had for our mates. We could hardly stand to be away from them when we had to leave them at their door after a wonderful evening with them. Our attention hung on their every word, the meaning of each sigh, or smile. We worried that maybe that love was not requited in the way that we desired.
This is the kind of love for God the Father and Jesus the Christ that we need to be rekindling. We don’t have a God who keeps us in the dark as to His love for us. He tells us plainly that He loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. He tells us that He loves us so much that He designated the One who became the Christ and His Son, from the beginning of creation, to come to earth to reconcile His sinful children to Him. There are very few people who would give up their lives for people who are so rotten to them. Yet, the Christ did!
Moreover, the One who became the Christ had to be willing to take on that mission, to love the Father so much that He was willing to divest Himself of all things, and then come to live as one of us, then to die horribly as the only possible sacrifice for that reconciliation. This love far exceeds that yearning of our first love for our mates.
Yet, that is the example the Christ instructs John to write down for us. He says “Remember your first love.” Like that first love we had for another human being, we need to rekindle the flame that was in our opened mind for the Father and His Way.
We all can easily understand the analogy of the first love. But, like a long time marriage, the question becomes “How do we get back to that point?” It certainly can’t be impossible to do or the Christ would not have cautioned us to do it, even going to the point of warning us what would happen if we did not. So, how, then, do we do this?
God never gives us instruction without showing us the “how” of the instruction. If we are having a problem with our first love of God, then we need to remember who we once were and what joy filled our hearts when we learned that “Daddy” had provided us forgiveness and that all we needed to do was to repent and then obey.
Next, we have to enthusiastically return to the tools that led us to the understanding that brought such joy. Have we let our prayer life slip? We are the only one who can fix that! Have we slacked up on the bible study thinking we know what God wants? If so, we need to remember that even the noble Bereans eagerly searched the scriptures daily!
What about fasting? When was the last time we took our lack of “first love” to Daddy in a fast? We fast for God to help us and others in ways that we cannot understand. If we don’t understand how to recapture that first love, we should fast for God to show us from where we have slipped.
The fourth tool for recapturing that first love is for us to meditate on what God has said to us. When we were new to the Way, we thought about what we had learned from God all the time. Do we do that today? If not, we can’t begin to get back to our first love any sooner than this minute.
When we study the Word, God speaks to us. When we pray, we have God’s promise that He will hear. When we meditate, we go past merely considering what God has said and consider how those words apply to us. Meditation is that “alone time” that allows us to think about what God has said. Finally, when we fast, we ask God for help with those things we cannot do.
In short, getting back to our “first love” of God restated is this: we need a revival. There is no doubt that the Church is in need of revival. If it was not, the Christ would not have left us the warning He sent to Ephesus through the Apostle John. I encourage everyone to consider whether or not that first love still burns in their breast, and to act according.
Nobody wants to lose their lampstand.