Losing your fist love
Losing Our First Love
I want to talk to you today about, losing Our First Love; I know I should be giving a sermon on Halloween and how Christians should not take part in it. Because of what it is and what it stands for. But after much prayer this is what but God has laid this on my heart and I must be obedient. The church today is no different than it was in Jesus’ time. We have the same problems because we are basically the same . Look back in the Old Testament God’s chosen people would see miracle after miracle, of course they would be on fire for awhile just like us and it would quickly fade until they would be worshiping other Gods. I want you to think back when each of you first responded to Gods call. What prompted that call, what made you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior? What were your fruits, and were you on fire for God? Now think back, when did you lose that fire, when did you lose your first love.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the seven churches of Asia that were the direct recipients of John’s vision on Patmos. As almost everyone knows, in the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus appears to John as a heavenly royal figure. And then something happens that gets our immediate attention. Jesus begins to give a critique of the seven churches; and, of course, for the us the number seven stands for the complete universal church – not just the seven churches of Asia, in the first century. So this word from our Lord – the living Jesus should get our attention.
4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
In spite of the many areas of the church that can be condemned, the church in Ephesus was soundly rebuked: “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.”
Forsaken: To quit or leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart or withdraw from; to leave; as, false friends and flatterers forsake us in adversity.
2. To renounce; to reject; to refuse.
3. To abandon; quit; desert; fail; relinquish; give up; renounce; reject. See Abandon.
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
This morning I wish to focus on one evaluation that appears to be something of a puzzle. It occurs in Rev. 2:2-4. Here the church at Ephesus is addressed. The puzzle is that, at first, the believers are complimented profusely for the quality and persisting endurance of their faith. Jesus says “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” (2:2-3).
Sounds like the model church, doesn’t it? They have not only “talked the talk” but continue to “walk the walk.” But then, almost like a fist in the stomach we get hit with these words: But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
What is going on here? What does it mean to say that a solid church, orthodox in doctrine, continuing in the faith has abandoned the love they had at first?
The order of words in the Greek; It could be translated, “Your first love you have left.” Christ used the word agapēn, speaking of the deep kind of love that God has for people. This rebuke contrasts with what Paul wrote the Ephesians 35 years earlier, that he never stopped giving thanks for them because of their faith in Christ and their love (agapēn) for the saints (Eph. 1:15-16). Most of the Ephesian Christians were now second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ. How the church today needs to heed this same warning, that orthodoxy and service are not enough. Christ wants believers’ hearts as well as their hands and heads.
Now a word of caution, so often in Bible classes this text is read as a statement about the spiritual temperature of the believer or the church: A need to get up to a level of great enthusiasm for the Lord. How often do we hear people say, “My tank is empty? I am looking for a service or a community to fill me!”And so assuming that spirituality can be equated with something like a sense of appreciation for a great performance, or a job well done, the depth of our “love for the Lord” is measured by our full participation in expressive and Spontaneous worship; and whether you, upon leaving the service, has a buzz in his or her heart. And yet nowhere does the Bible equate our love for God with emotions, passions or feelings. We are only built up in the love of God when the truth of God’s word is lodged and grows in our hearts. Since God’s word is truth, as dull as it may sound – it is only through the thoughtful reading and meditation of scripture in our lives by submitting to God’s will, that we will grow in love. And so I doubt very much that Jesus was telling the Ephesian church, “Now you have lost your first flush of enthusiasm and excitement and instead have settled down into a cold orthodoxy. Consequently you need to do more evangelistic studies and you need to make your services more interesting!” I do not think so.
Well, if the rebuke on “abandoning your first love” does not refer to the level of our feelings, to what does it refer?
I think the answer is disarmingly simple; and what is more, it may have special meaning for us today.
Simply stated, the Ephesians needed to rekindle a lost love for one another, at their core is the idea that God is love and truth and this true reality was expressed in
the life of Jesus Christ; and the deeper logic of this claim is expressed in such texts as 2 John 5 where we learn that to be a follower of Jesus Christ first and foundational is to love one another (i.e. our brethren).
That was what it was about in Jesus’ ministry; it remained the source for the church at Ephesus and the brotherhood in Texas today.
And why do we need to hear this word especially now? For the past fifteen years or so, the churches have been engaged in the worship wars. While it is true that in many places people have agreed to disagree and some kind of modus vivendi has emerged, the scars of the battles are scarcely healed. Like the struggles in the earlier years of the Ephesian church, events have taken their toll. We say we are brothers and sisters but the “real music” is not there. The love we had at first is gone. Moffat translates this verse “You have given up loving one another as you did at first.” Let me ask you, “Regardless of where you stand in the worship wars, what is your connection with those on the other side of the divide?” What do you really think of them?
Pagan records show observations of some Christians they met, “See how they love another!” Is that true today?
And so we come back to our original puzzle. Why were orthodox believers in Ephesus, still active in the faith, chastised for forfeiting their first love? I hope, by now, we have the answer.
We may be coming from very different places with church issues, and we may get on the nerves of each other from time to time.
But at the Table, we are called into the presence of the One who says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). That is our first love.
Church as I close I want you to know Beaver Creek will never grow Spiritually or physically until we learn to love each other, until us except the fact that each of us has faults. We are to pattern our lives after Christ, and I ask you do you? Can you look across the aisle and say I love you with all my heart? Can you walk into another church even though someone in that church has done you wrong and say I love you?
Are you carrying a grudge or even worse hatred in your heart?
Church listen this church will dry up spiritually and die unless we get all this out. Unless we get this black spirit out of here, I know some of you are saying I have no idea what he is saying. Search your heart today and if you have hatred or carrying a grudge you need to make your way up front and repent and rebuke this spirit that has held you in bondage for so long. Today is a time for healing and cleansing. As the song plays don’t you let anyone stop you. You come today
37Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’