Text: Revelation 2:1-7
We sing songs about it, read books about it, and watch movies about it. It can even make us a little crazy at times and cause us to do things we normally wouldn’t do under any other circumstances. “It” is this thing called love.
In 1997, I found myself attending a figure skating show for the first time in my life. Up until this moment, I had never felt that my life was incomplete without figure skating. As a kid growing up with affection for full contact sports, I never really had figure skating on my radar. It was a foreign sport to me. I could’ve gone to my grave with peace despite never attending a routinely choreographed event on ice.
But this night was different. Things were changing.
In my mind, I may even have been singing along to the tune of the Toy Story movie soundtrack, “Strange things are happening to me.” Indeed, strange things were happening. You see, just months prior to this event, I had stood at an altar in West Palm Beach, Florida, and exchanged vows with the woman I fell in love with. Yes, I was a newlywed—and the strange things that were happening to me were that my wife’s interests were suddenly becoming my interests. Cindy and her parents enjoyed figure skating, so when a highly acclaimed “show on ice” came to the Palm Beach Auditorium, we all went to see it. Though it was a new and unfamiliar experience to me, I loved it. Why? Because it was special to the one I fell in love with! Her delights became my delights. What moved her heart moved mine.
Similar “strange” patterns also happen as we grow deeper and become more spiritually intimate with our Creator. According to Jesus, the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 ESV). As we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we find that our innermost desires conform more to what pleases God as opposed to what satisfies self. We think differently, aim differently, and act differently in life. We find ourselves living for a higher purpose—keeping eternity in mind and sacrificing for the bigger picture. We find ourselves strangely loving our enemies, surprisingly praying for those who did us wrong, and oddly going out of our way to serve others.
Francis Chan noted:
“People in love act much differently than people with a sense of obligation. People do crazy things for love. Love has a way of making even the most difficult tasks feel simple and joyful. It has a way of pushing us to act with complete abandon and devotion.”
Lose Love, Lose All
Sadly, the early church in Ephesus had lost that lovin’ feelin’ (Revelation 2:1-7). Though they were doing many good works for God, what was once a love relationship had diminished into calloused orthodoxy and cold religion. They were doing their duty, but had lost their devotion. The Ephesian church was a working church and a doctrinally guarded church, yet somewhere along the way, they had lost their first love. God rebuked them for having abandoned the love they had at first (Revelation 2:4). Rather than merely being busy with religious toil (Revelation 2:2 a), being unbearable towards those overcome by evil (Revelation 2:2 b), and being coldhearted in their doctrinal policing (Revelation 2:2 c), God warned these early believers to repent and return to that first love they once knew when they initially began to follow the way of Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon expounded on this passage with a sobering indictment:
“A church has no reason for being a church when she has no love within her heart, or when that love grows cold. Lose love, lose all.”
Beloved, God wants us to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14), growing up in sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), and abhorred by the sin that destroys people’s lives (Jude 1:23). The Ephesians did all of these, nevertheless, had lost the most important thing—their love relationship with God. It’s important to note that anytime we lose our first love with God, it inevitably affects every other relationship in life. It erodes our capacity to love others in a genuine, Christ-like way.
As you take time to abide in Him this week, ask God to reveal to you any areas of your life that have fallen away from your first love. If necessary, repent of things that have taken the place of that first love. Ask God to renew your passion to love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
When we lose our first love, it erodes our capacity to love others in a genuine, Christ-like way.
For further study: Deuteronomy 6:5-12, I Corinthians 13:1-3
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- What is the craziest thing you have ever done for love?
- Oftentimes the selfless things that spouses do for one another early in a marriage fall off later in the marriage. To what can this be attributed?
- In what ways can we sometimes take God’s love for granted?
- Why do you think God warns us about being religious while abandoning our first love? What is the danger here?
- What can you do this week to cultivate intimacy with God and guard your life from cold-hearted religious duty?
Subscribe to “Abiding In Him” and get the latest devotional in your Inbox once a week.