1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To those who are victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
(Revelation 2:1-7; TNIV)
The church in Ephesus had alot going for it. It was gangbusters and unrelenting in its zeal for the truth and the name of Jesus. They confronted the issues of their time. Jesus commended them for this. And he encouraged them in their hatred of what he hated.
But one thing was lacking. And this was endangering their very existence as a church. They had forsaken the love they had had at first.
What did that look like? Somehow, in some way, though zealous for God and seeking to do his will, they were losing out. The heart of what they were doing was in danger of dying. That was to be a heart of love for God and for others.
Jesus called them to repentance. And it's an ultimatum. Repent or else. Or else they lose their place as a church, in Jesus' eyes and in his work.
What about us today? What are we known for? What would Jesus see as he looks at us, as his church? And what comes to mind to those on the outside looking in at us? Are we known for our love of truth? Our defense of the faith? Our deeds, hard work and perseverance? Discernment in separating out those who are dangerous to the church? Even known to endure hardships in all of this for Jesus' name, not growing weary?
Or are we known for our love? Our love for God. Our love for each other. Our love for all people.
Jesus came, full of grace and truth (John 1). We should be lovers of truth. But first and foremost we must become lovers of God. And lovers of people. This love is not devoid of truth. Othewise it is not the love that is from God. And truth or anything at all without this love is worthless in God's sight (1 Corinthians 13).
We may need to recover this first love: for God, and for our "neighbor". God help us to come back to that first love.
"Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love."