This is a partial quote from Duckie’s article “Dim Bulbs”:
“For a long time I’ve had a warning from Jesus on my heart. It comes from Revelation 2:4-6 and taken in the whole context could describe western, particularly American Christians perfectly…
‘Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.’ ”
Who were the Christians to whom King Jesus spoke so harshly?
“‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: ‘I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.’ ” (Revelation 2:1-3)
Why did the Ephesian church, with so much to recommend it, receive such a harsh warning from the Lord?
Because “You have left your first love.”
God has established a relationship with believers in Jesus, and it is a relationship based on love! We are in the process of becoming His mature children, not merely His servants. Mechanical obedience is not what He wants from us. He loves us, and wants our sincere love in return.
Picture a wife who keeps house perfectly, keeps her family fed with good food, is an example of good conduct to everyone she meets, is active in the PTA and votes wisely, is a good mother, manages the household budget as carefully as a CPA … and turns a cold shoulder to her husband. She doesn’t want to spend time with him, doesn’t converse with him in the normal intimate, loving way of husband and wife, doesn’t open her heart to him. Toward her husband, she acts like an automaton. An efficient robot. No word of love or acknowledgment of his love ever passes her lips.
Yet her husband loves her with his whole heart, has protected her from harm at great risk to himself, has been proud of her and bragged on her, is faithful to her, has honored her in front of their children and the neighbors, has always treated her with respect and courtesy, in fact has been in every respect a perfect husband.
Would her husband have cause for complaint?
If this were a typical human couple, I think most wise adults would want to look a little closer at the husband. Has he really been such a marvel of love and perfection? But this is about King Jesus and a local church, and King Jesus is perfect.
What’s the remedy? “Remember 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.”
Remember! In places all across America on 9/11, the fallen victims of the terrorist attack are remembered. We remember our heroes in the military. We express our respect for them, for law enforcement officers, for first responders, for firefighters. We have special days for remembering family – birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s day.
Do we remember our Savior as much? I am speaking to myself also when I write this. I wonder if I need to act on the warning Jesus gave the Ephesian church. I think that this Sunday I have to start looking for the specific way to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. To remember the most important reason I have to love Him.
There is one way that Jesus specified by which He particularly wants us to remember Him: the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
What we call the Lord’s Supper was originally a tradition of the Passover holiday, remembering the day that the Lord brought the Jews out of Egypt as a rich nation, out of the nation in which they had been slaves. The bread that Jesus served the disciples was Passover bread, “matzoh”, made without leaven like the bread the Israelites prepared for their hurried exit from Egypt: “So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing … The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.” (Exodus chapter 12)
The disciples were Jews. They clearly understood the significance of one of the most important celebrations of Israel. “The matzoh represents the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt, and the red wine or grape juice represents the blood of sacrifices and male circumcision.” (From First Day of Passover)
But then Jesus turned it into something new!
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.‘ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’ ” (Luke 22:19-20)
They were in Jerusalem, celebrating the Feast of the Passover, that night when God “passed over” the houses of the Israelites whose residents had put the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the doorposts.
Remember what John the Baptist said to his own disciples when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized? “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ ” (John 1:29)
No more joyous announcement has ever been made to this world! The shepherds and the Magi heard that announcement, and gladly worshipped the Lamb of God.
The sacrificial lambs of the Passover saved the lives of Jews thousands of years ago through the Jews’ faith in God. The Lamb of God died a horrible death to save everyone who believes in Him. And He commanded His disciples to remember Him when they celebrated the Passover, to realize that He was the Lamb Whom the other lambs had represented.
This is the specific way we have been told to remember God’s incredible, immeasurable love for us, and why we should love Him and King Jesus wholeheartedly. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
And eternal joy! Those who are believers in King Jesus have citizenship in God’s Kingdom. We have God’s promise that our sins are forgiven, forgotten as soon as we confess them, deleted from our records, and we have personal invitations to the biggest, happiest party the Universe will ever see, when this world is wiped out and the New Heavens and the New Earth are created! No more pain, no more suffering, eternal life in the Kingdom of a God of love, unlimited wisdom and perfect integrity and honor and holiness. And “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death!” (1st Corinthians 15:26)
The remembrance of the sacrifice of the One Who made that possible should be a primary and joyful part of every Christian’s life. This is the secret to the love that was missing from the life of the Ephesian church.