I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
It’s tragic to see a marriage in which the spouses have grown cold toward each other. Though they’re still together, loneliness and isolation abound. There’s a rigid, lifeless formality to it, seen in their eyes and understood in their expressions. The vibrancy and fresh discoveries that marked their early love are missing, having slipped away with the passing years.
The Ephesian church was a task-oriented, tough-minded, truth-telling fellowship, and for this they were commended (Revelation 2:2-3). But in His words to them, Jesus revealed their Achilles’ heel: though they were seeking to hold fast to the truth, they had abandoned love. One commentator writes, “If the price paid by the Ephesians for the preservation of true Christianity was the loss of love, the price was too high, for Christianity without love is a perverted faith.”
Was it that they had lost their love for Christ? For each other? For the unbelieving community around them? It isn’t necessary to choose between those options. For when love for Christ is not as it should be, then our love for all else will be affected.
For those of us who are committed to doctrinal faithfulness, here is a challenging reminder that the ultimate measure of a church is found not in its programs, achievements, reputation, or doctrinal orthodoxy but in its love. Christianity, as the Puritan Thomas Chalmers eloquently put it, is about “the expulsive power of a new affection”—about falling in love with Christ, about a sense of the immensity of His pursuing, energizing, loving grace. If that love for Jesus begins to wane, we will begin to look a lot like the church in Ephesus: impressive from the outside but internally loveless. And Jesus warns that this is no small matter; removing the Ephesian church’s lampstand means removing His recognition of them as His church, His people. A loveless church is, in truth, not a church at all.
Perhaps you realize that you do not love God the way you once did. This can creep up on us so easily, our eyes growing dry, our prayers growing cold. What can we do?
Jesus says the remedy for lost love is first to “remember.” We need to recall what it was about Jesus that caused us to love Him in the first place and then use that as a spur for forward momentum. We need to restore our commitment to the things we did at first—which typically means going back to the basics. In short, we need to look again at Jesus, lifting our eyes from what we do—our programs, our efforts, our ministries—to the beauty and love of the one who died for us and who dwells in us. Love is rekindled by looking at that which is lovely. So if your love has grown cold, gaze at Jesus as He reveals Himself to you in His word—and joy and vibrancy will surely return.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.