September 18, 2015
When Love Grows Cold
By Skip Heitzig
So often we see a marriage where two people have been married for some time, and suddenly one of them says, "I don't love my spouse anymore." This sort of thing doesn't happen overnight. It's a slow erosion process, and the church often does the same thing with Christ.
This erosion was taking place in the early church at Ephesus. A great work and a great church had been planted there, and the people were so on fire for the Lord. Then ice started to grow over their hearts. They were doing the same stuff, but the passion was gone.
In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus told the Ephesian church three things: He commended them for what they did right, confronted them in what they lacked, and gave a commandment for what they ought to do. Let's evaluate ourselves as we read through the passage.
First of all, Jesus commended the Ephesian church for their works: "I know your works, your labor, your patience" (v. 2); "You…have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary" (v. 3). He commended them for their discernment (see v. 2) and for their perseverance despite persecution (see v. 3).
But in verse 4, He confronted their waywardness: "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Notice it does not say, "You have lost your first love." It's not something you lose; it's something you leave. The word implies a process over time. The Ephesian church did all the right things, yet Jesus said, "You've left your devotion to Me—your simple, pure, fervent love for Me." How is it possible to be about the King's business and forget the King? It actually happens all the time, especially in full-time ministry.
Mary and Martha in the New Testament are a classic example: Martha was a hard worker; Mary was a loving worshiper. When it came down to it, Jesus didn't condemn Martha's service—just that it distracted her. He said to her, "You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42). In other words, it's more important to Jesus what you do with Him than what you do for Him.
Let's close with what Jesus commanded the Ephesians: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works" (v. 5). First of all, remember. Relive the romance. Go back to that place of intimacy where you felt so close to Jesus. Second, repent. John, writing to Christians, said, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Finally, repeat, or do the first works over again. Read the Bible like God's love letter to you. Take a walk and talk to Him. Listen to His love for you, and then tell others about Him. Feelings are like a caboose—they follow your will. If you make Jesus number one in your life, those feelings will return.
Notice what Jesus said after that: "Or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent" (v. 5). He was saying, in effect, "I won't stay around a church that doesn't love Me." You'll lose the opportunity to make an impact in the world.
So today, if you feel far from God, don't sit there and feel bad about it—turn around and go right back to Him with devotion and confidence that He will forgive and receive you. He "is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6), so seek Him with all of your heart. May we not be so busy about the affairs of the kingdom that we neglect the King Himself.
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