These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev 2:1b-5)
The church in Ephesus was not bad at all. They worked hard and persevered for the Lord’s name. They could not tolerate wicked people and were able to distinguish those who claimed to be apostles but were not. However, the Lord held one thing against them, they had forsaken the love they first had.
What was this first love?
There may be two aspects: (1) the pursuit of God’s love and their love for God; and (2) their love towards fellow Christians. Someone once said that there is a “best before date” in every relationship. Just like a married couple, their love may gradually become a family relationship. The passion initially in their love for each other gradually fading as times goes by. Though I do not agree that there is a “best before date” in every relationship, when I conduct pre-nuptial counselling with those “to be wed”, I always remind them to make every effort to cultivate and maintain the love between them. This also applies to the relationship between us and God. The longer we believe in the Lord, the greater the risk of forsaking our first initial for God. This is a crisis that we must face squarely. If we fail to deal with it, we may become “old lamb”, “stale bread”, or “gone off seafood”. We will gradually lose all our love for Him; and turn our love towards other things and our spiritual life may lose its passion, its focus, its strength and verve.
If we have forsaken our initial love of God, what can we do? Fortunately, our Lord provides us with the answer here:
- We have to consider the circumstances when and how we started on this slippery slope: we, might have been, burdened by too many earthly matters, hurt by a broken relationship with brothers and sisters, unable to achieve satisfaction in serving, hit by a series of struggles in our lives. We must ask ourselves …… what has happened?
- We should repent; seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in prayer; reflect on whether there is any bitterness or sin in our lives. Ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, healing and bandaging.
- Do what you did initially: Reflect on how you became a Christian and reflect on how passionate you were at the time. Reset your spiritual life to the “Factory default position”.
I hope we are all able to sustain our passion to love the Lord and other, to serve Him and carry out His mission, just like we first set out to do!
Rev Florence Wong