“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
Last week was a time of rest for our family as we visited with family and old friends. Well, it wasn’t always restful. One of those friends has a son who is the same age as my youngest son, and the two boys challenged their dads to a game of basketball. Out of respect for the defeated, I’ll not mention the score. Anyway, the time with the boys was a blessing, but the blessing continued after the game. My friend and I just sat down in the driveway and talked. There was a beautiful blue sky. Our boys were playing. And we were reminiscing.
You see, my friend is a dear friend. He is a friend who pre-dated my entry into the ministry. We spoke of times we had prayed together, laughed together, cried together, and loved Jesus together. And that was the point. Our simple, shared love of Jesus.
In Revelation 2, Jesus is dictating a series of letters to churches, and in verses 1-7 he is writing to the church in Ephesus. He commends them for what they have done well. They’ve fought for the faith. They have not put up with false teachers. In other words, their theology is not tainted. But they have lost their first love.
What was that first love? I believe it was the love they had for Jesus when they first heard the word of Christ, when they first knew the joy of salvation, when they first sang the gospel. Do you remember when you first sang the gospel? Do you remember the love you had at first?
Is that love merely an emotion? No. It can’t be. True love should stir the emotion, but love is a commitment. Love is growing in intimate knowledge of our Beloved. Love is sticking together when times are hard and “love” doesn’t seem to make sense. Love is a verb.
So what does Jesus tell the church in Ephesus to do? He tells them to do the works they did at first. No, we’re not saved by works. We’re saved by grace. But remember, love is a verb. With that in mind, I think about praying and laughing and crying and loving Jesus together. None of it was duty. It was joy. And we did those works of love together because we KNEW we had first been loved by Jesus.
So this New Year, I find myself desiring something old. An old love to be more precise…the love I had at first. Will you join me and my friend? This New Year, let’s pray and laugh and cry and love Jesus together.