Have You Left Your First Love?

Revelation 2

1“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

2“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. 4But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. If you don’t, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6But there is this about you that is good: You hate the deeds of the immoral Nicolaitans, just as I do.

7“Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:1-7, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

In Revelation 2 and 3, John relates a series of messages the Lord gave him to share with seven different churches that existed at that time. In each case, the message follows a pattern of sharing some positive qualities that the church exhibits while also sharing the areas where the church has deviated from God’s design.

I previously wrote about the message to the church at Pergamum here (Compromise isn’t Always Good), where the Lord’s complaint against this church was that they tolerated the presence and the teaching of a group known as Nicolaitans, who apparently taught a doctrine of compromise that integrated sexually immoral pagan practices with Christian teachings.

In the message to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praises the church for NOT tolerating the immoral Nicolaitans.

The complaint Jesus has for the Ephesians is different. He rebukes them because they “don’t love me or each other as you did at first.”

Here is a case where the New Living Translation (NLT) may not portray the full impact of what Jesus is saying.

For comparison, here is how Revelation 2:4 reads in a few different translations:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (NIV)

‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (NASB)

But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. (ESV)

Those words “forsaken”, “left”, and “abandoned” give the impression of a person who has left a relationship for something else. I picture a wife who has left her husband for another man. Or I imagine a dad who has left his wife and family for a younger woman.

The issue is a lack of commitment.

We live in a culture that doesn’t honor or value commitment as much as previous generations did, particularly when it comes to marriage. Divorce is so commonplace that it almost seems strange when you meet someone whose family is still together.

We see celebrities and media personalities moving in and out of relationships and falling in and out of love with such regularity that the idea of love has been reduced to a feeling that can change more rapidly than the weather.

Over and over in the Old Testament, the Israelites are rebuked for being unfaithful and abandoning the Lord. They did this by pursuing foreign gods and neglecting God’s explicit commands.

We have a penchant for wandering. I suppose it’s human nature to always think the grass is always greener somewhere else so we test the limits, we expand the boundaries and before you know it, we’ve completely forsaken the Lord and his teachings while pursuing something or someone else.

This forsaking of Jesus can take many different forms but the one constant is that we no longer value Jesus as king in our lives. Perhaps we still believe in Him and even continue to participate in various religious practices but His priority and importance in our lives begins to wane.

The good news is that no matter where we’re at, or how far we may have strayed, Jesus invites us to return to him.  Regardless of our situation, we can renew our commitment to Jesus and experience His presence and purpose in our lives.

Reflection

If Jesus were to give a message to you today, what would he say? Would he commend you or would he have a complaint to share?

The complaint against the church at Ephesus was that they had left their first love? How would you rate your love for God right now compared to when you first came to know Him?

What is your concept of love? How does the concept of commitment fit with your perception of love?

What are some of the things in our culture and in your life that are most likely to cause you to stray from the Lord and tempt you to “forsake” Him?

What steps can you take to ensure that your commitment to Jesus does not succumb to current cultural challenges.

 

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

 

That Feeling of Panic

Luke 15

8“Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it?9And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. 10In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:8-10, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

A few years ago, I had to take my car in for a recall issue. On my way to the dealer I stopped off at a county e-waste facility to drop off a number of used electronic items for recycling.

When I arrived at the e-waste facility, the guy working asked me to stay in the car and he would retrieve the items out of the trunk. I didn’t think anything about it, until I arrived 20 minutes later at the car dealer.

As the service technician grabbed my keys to pull the car into the service bay, I went to the trunk to grab my backpack and computer so I could do some work in the waiting area while my car was being serviced. But I quickly noticed that my computer was not there.

The computer had been in a zipped sleeve next to my backpack. But it was gone. It was at that moment that panic set in as I realized the e-waste worker had grabbed my laptop with all the other electronic waste items.

It was Defcon red in my mind as I thought about losing my computer, which would have been expensive to replace, not to mention all the data that I would have lost forever.

I called my wife who dropped everything to come and get me. That took 15 minutes. I was clenching my fists and my stomach was turning inside out as we drove back to the e-waste center as fast as we could. That took another 20 minutes.

When I arrived back at the e-waste center it had been over an hour since my computer had been accidentally mistaken as e-waste.

I explained my situation to the worker and he asked me to wait a moment while he went to look and see if the computer was still there.

A few moments later, I saw him walk toward me with the computer, still in its zipped sleeve, in hand.

The sense of relief and elation that I had not lost my computer with all of its contents was almost too much to handle. I was so happy and overjoyed that it took quite a while for all the nervous energy to dissipate.

In this passage from Luke, Jesus tells a story about a woman who loses some valuable coins. She goes through the whole house, turning everything inside out and upside down until she finally finds the item of value. She’s elated that the item she thought was lost has now been found.

Jesus uses this illustration to give the listener a slight glimpse into the heart of God. When people turn to Him and put their trust in Him, beginning a relationship with Him and becoming a part of His family, He is elated.

I often think of God as being somewhat stoic and devoid of emotion. But that’s not the case at all. God’s love for you (and me) is immeasurable. And so when someone decides to turn to Him and become a part of His family, He is euphoric. That which was lost (separated from Him) is now found and there is joy in heaven as a result!

Side note: the e-waste worker, upon handing my laptop back to me, told me that if we had arrived any later, my computer would likely be gone as a truck was scheduled to arrive any minute to haul everything away!

Reflection

When have you lost something valuable or important (keys, wallet, money)?

What did it feel like as you searched earnestly for the item?

What feelings did you experience when you found the item (if you did find it)?

How do you tend to think about God and His emotional response to you choosing Him? 

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash