This posting represents my third line of thought, prompted by the “First Love” theme of the “GBE 2: Blog On” weekly challenge. My other two can be found below this one.
The 'First love' line is not in my NIV Bible, but the exact phrasing is in Revelation 2:4 of the King James Version. If you are not familiar with the passage, let me fill you in a bit.
The Apostle John had been exiled to the island of Patmos by the Roman authorities. Little did they know that Jesus Christ could reach him there, but He did. All 22 chapters of this incredible book are John's description of an elaborate prophetic vision given to him by God. Chapters two and three contain seven messages that Christ dictates for John to write down and send to seven prominent churches actually located in Asia minor. In each letter Jesus commends the body of believers in a particular area regarding some of the things they are doing right, and then reprimands their stand or their behavior where it is off track. Only the church in Smyrna escapes any rebuke.
These two short chapters of scripture are of great interest to the modern church because they are written with very specific encouragement and/ or warning, to people just like us. We are so like them, just people who have become Christians after acknowledging the need for a savior, and finding the only One who can forgive us; Jesus Christ. As we align with local congregations and follow the leadership of particular people, we may either be taught well and mature in the faith, or take a misguided path away from solid Biblical teaching (like that foolish group who bring shame to Christ by claiming to follow Him, but disgustingly protest at soldiers' funerals).
The church at Ephesus gets the first letter. The people there are commended for their hard work and perseverance, for their intolerance of wicked people, their determination to test those who would teach them, and for their endurance under hardship. But Jesus goes on to express His great distress that the Ephesian Christians “have forsaken the love you had at first.” He tells them to “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. Do you see what I mean about how powerfully relevant these verses can be to us today? What church, what Christian, what older married man or woman has not in some way forsaken their first love?
Of course the early emotions do wane, and probably could not be healthily maintained at their youthful zeal for the long term; but the real essence of unselfish devotion and self-sacrifice for the loved one should not be allowed to diminish, or be replaced by anything else. This is more true in our relationship with God through His Son, than anywhere else because only God's perfect love for us is pure and unpolluted by ulterior motives. Our love response to Him should not only be exuberant, but absolute.
Do you 'have ears'? Because at the end of each letter to each church, this admonition is given: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”