It’s all the more fascinating reading the things Jesus says to the churches in the early part of Revelation. In as much as those messages were about conditions those churches experienced it still comes across as though Jesus is talking about the conditions that church can be in today.
Reading the situation for Ephesus is illuminating. Here’s a group of believers that take their doctrine very seriously, that persevere despite the circumstances and work hard. Those are highly commendable and Jesus acknowledges that and gives it the thumbs up at the end with their refusal to adopt erroneous doctrine. Where they fall down with Jesus, however, is very serious. Serious enough for Jesus to threaten to snuff them our unless they return to that first love experience.
It’s heavy to think you can be ticking the doctrine boxes, but Jesus can still turn around and say that’s insufficient. It’s heavy to think that doctrine could in itself be a distraction from first love expressions. It’s not a bad thing being on point with doctrine, but it’s something when that ain’t cutting the mustard where Jesus is concerned.
Those first love actions were evidently very important to Jesus. There was something about that which made the relationship vibrant and dynamic. It’s the case that after the love has gone, Jesus is wondering how can they carry on. The fact is that they can’t carry on if that love is gone.
There is something vibrant and dynamic about that true flush of first love. That passion to get to know and look to please. That first love is not puppy love or a mushy kind of soft feeling associated with some approaches to the matter. No, this first love is about Jesus, what He’s done and what that means for us as a result. Seeing how He first loved and now invites us to engage in that love.
It’s not unusual, though, that over time our passion and desire for Jesus can cool to the point where we could well be oblivious to the fact that activity has crowded out that love. It’s not just a feeling issue, it’s about the direction of the heart that aligns itself to that love so amazing and so divine that it should demand a whole life response.
The message is still more than pertinent for today. It’s well worth reflecting, repenting and returning to that first love. Keeping that fire in our being burning fiercely in the light of who He is and what He’s done. It’s a corporate call to the gathering of believers, which suggests they all know what that was to experience as a community of grace. It’s a call for the community of grace to express that again, to do what it rakes as a community to remember the words Jesus gave to His disciples that the world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for each other.
With the Holy Spirit of God living in us we have all we need to return to that love. We have Him inside us, among us, with us and for us to work through us so that this is not just a sentiment, but radical action to show the truth of the love that died on a cross and rose triumphant and invites us not just to get into this love but stay there.
Yet thank God that whenever we do stray, He is there warning us and saying we gotta get back to love.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden