The church in Ephesus was known for their good deeds and their toil and perseverance. They could not stand evil men, and put to the test those who were calling themselves apostles, and found them to be false. They had persevered and endured for the Lord’s name’s sake, and they hadn’t grown weary. Today the church in Ephesus would be considered a pretty good church, strong, steadfast, giving, haters of evil. What more could one ask for in a church? But Jesus had one thing against them, they had left their first love.
Jeremiah 2:2b (NIV) says, ‘This is what the LORD says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved Me and followed Me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.”’ From this we see that leaving our first love is losing our devotion to Him whom we have been betrothed. It is losing sight of loving Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. It happens wen we get caught up in the doing, rather than the being. It happens when we become unrestrained in our thinking and begin forming opinions and doctrines with our own understanding, thereby becoming entangled with formula after formula, rather than His Presence.
The church in Ephesus was busy making sure everything was right. They did good deeds and they learned perseverance and endurance. They abhorred evil, and turned away false apostles. To the human eye, they were a beacon of perfection. However, in their zeal to please the Lord, they lost sight of their fellowship with Him. They became so busy ‘being’ Christians, they lost sight of the living Christ within them. To the eye of Him who had purchased them from the ravages of sin, this was sin, and they needed to repent and do the works they did at first. They needed to return to a place of complete love and devotion to the One who had betrothed them.
We, today, must guard ourselves from leaving our first love. We must shun the tendency to allow our minds to run unrestrained; for, in so doing, we will find ourselves forming opinions; we will find ourselves holding to this doctrine and that doctrine, rather than holding to the head. We will find that, although we are endeavoring to do the things required of us as pertains to our place in the body, we are flip-flopping; flip-flopping because we are not holding fast to the head, Jesus.
Dear friends, we can search the Scriptures day in and day out looking for answers to this question and that question, only to find in the end that it is futile. There are no questions. There are no answers. There is only Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life; and in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form. We have been granted precious and magnificent promises, in order that we might become partakers of the divine nature. We are to follow Him of whom the Scriptures testify. We are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We cannot be partakers of the divine nature if we are not holding fast to the head. We must abide in the vine.
It is sad that so many weary ones search the Scriptures looking for this and for that, and never turn to Him of whom the Scriptures testify. Oh, they call on Him, they use His name, but their trust is not in Him; it is in formulas they have fabricated by taking Scriptures out of context. They are so busy trying to be Christians, they have forsaken the living Christ. One might say they are now worshipping an idol; an idol of an image of God they have fashioned for themselves. And they reached this point because they left their first love, either by ignorance, or by a desire to do things their own way.
If we hold fast to our first love, we will not be tossed about by doctrine after doctrine, or opinion after opinion. We will be anchored in Him who loves us, resting beneath the shadow of His wings. And as He leads us beside waters of rest and makes us lie down in green pastures, we will find that He also guides us in the paths of righteousness and leads us into all truth. We need only follow Him; for in Him are all things pertaining to life and godliness. We need only walk in simple child-like trust as He works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Hold fast to the head; abide in the vine; trust in Him with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Return to Him of whom the Scriptures testify. Return to your first love.
Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant
P.S. Please weigh everything I say on the scales of the Word of God.