Studies in Revelation: Your First Love

Studies in Revelation: Your First Love

I’ve often wondered what it would say if we had the privilege of reading a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to our congregation. Even more interesting, though, would be reading a letter from Jesus. It would likely include elements of the letters that he sent to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) near the end of the first century, and recorded in the second and third chapters of Revelation. Probably, what these churches were doing poorly and what they were doing well would be similar to our successes and struggles today.

Over the next few Sunday mornings, we’re going to study these letters to learn what he said to these Asian churches and, hopefully, to discern in these letters his message to us.

The church at Ephesus was doing some things well. They were what we would call an orthodox church; i.e., they believed and taught the right doctrines, apparently, and they stood up to those who tried to steer the church in a different direction. So far, so good.

Jesus also commended them for enduring persecution for their faith and for “bearing up for [his] name’s sake,” without growing weary. Another good thing.

But–and it’s an important “but”–Jesus had something against them: “you have abandoned the love you had at first” (v 4). They needed to repent and “do the works [they] did at first” (v 5). If they did, they would “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (v 7).

Is it possible to be a theologically sound church while at the same time abandoning our first love? Is it possible to oppose false doctrine vehemently and faithfully while not having a vibrant relationship with the Lord?

It is, of course, and it’s a particular struggle of conservative-leaning churches. An emphasis on healthy Christian doctrine is crucial, but sometimes we can be so focused on being right in what we teach and practice that we forget Jesus’ call to a living relationship with him that’s characterized by loving devotion.


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