Have we LEFT our ‘FIRST LOVE’?
December 25 Bible Reading: Revelation Chapters 1-3
"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:...Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.'” (Rev 2:1, 4-5)
When Apostle John started writing the ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’ while on exile in the island of Patmos (1:9), he was commissioned to write ‘the things he saw, the things that are and the things that will take place’ (1:19). Among ‘the things that are’, the Lord Jesus wanted to speak about the true condition of the seven churches in Asia (1:11b) and exhort them to overcome their liability in order to receive the reward that Jesus would give them one day.
The church of Ephesus was started by Apostle Paul in A.D. 53 (Acts 19:1-10) who stayed there for three years in order to warn the believers ‘night and day with tears’ (Acts 20:31). This church further enjoyed the ministries of Priscilla/Aquila, Apollos and Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3). In fact, they were fervent in their faith and love as evidenced from Paul’s writing to them from his prison cell in about A.D. 62 (Eph. 1:15-16). We can also note that Apostle John continued as an Elder in that church in Ephesus and wrote three epistles (1, 2, 3 John) that centered on love. However, about thirty years later, God revealed their true current state – ‘they had left their first love’.
Why is love so important to God? The best answer to this is because God’s essence is love: God IS love (1 John 4:8b). Love is greater than anything else in our lives and it never fails (1 Cor. 13). Love is the core objective of the new (John 13:34) and the great (Matt. 22:36-40) commandment that Jesus has given us. We lie to God when we say that we love God and hate other people (1 John 4:20). God expects us to love Him and other people as His children!
What is meant by first love? Jeremiah 2:2 describes it beautifully as follows: 'thus says the Lord: "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown." It is that fervent, passionate love felt by either an engaged or newly wedded couple. The wise man Agur finds it too wonderful to explain it as he describes it as ‘the way of a man with a virgin’ (Prov. 30:19). This is the kind of love Jesus has for us and expects us to have in return.
However, many of us have left our ‘first love’. We had it at one stage of our life journey, but when we examine ourselves today we will soon realize that we have ‘left our first love’ somewhere along the way. We have lost our fervency in worship that displays our love to God and we are lukewarm (Rev. 3:15-16) in our relationship with God. We fail to obey the commands that Jesus has given us (John 14:15). We are hyper-critical on the faults of other people, as we disregard what Apostle Peter has told us: 'and above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins"' (1 Peter 4:8). Our lack-luster love is a fulfillment of the end-time prophecy (Matt. 24:12) as well.