In Ephesians chapter five, the Apostle Paul compares the relationship of Jesus and His church (those who have trusted Christ by faith) to that of a man and woman in marriage. There Paul states, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32, NASB).” He says this after a detailed discussion of the roles of a husband and wife within the marriage relationship.
This being a Biblical backdrop for consideration, I would like us to ponder Revelation 2:4 from the December 12th reading of the devotional Bible. Parenthetically, notice Paul’s letter is written to the Ephesian believers and Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle John, is also addressing the church in Ephesus. Jesus admonishes, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love (Revelation 2:4, NASB).” If left uncorrected, this condition would ultimately lead to the removal of God’s presence and power from the church; a useless shell of what it once was.
The Church at Ephesus was portrayed in John’s Revelation as enduring through the trials it faced; a hard working, doctrinally sound group of Christ followers that, for all intents and purposes, externally had it all together. Yet the internal flaw was so serious that their very life breath, the Holy Spirit, would be removed from their midst! At this juncture, Paul’s relationship comparison from Ephesians is quite instructive. Many marriages may have the appearance of success. Outwardly the couple gives the impression that they get along, they live in a nice home, are raising a fine family, and are models of integrity. They exemplify what marriage is supposed to be. However, internally something is fatally wrong. The couple is going through all the right motions but along the way the motive has been lost. They wake up one day and don’t even know each other; in the words of Jesus from Revelation, they have “left their first love.”
In this sense, motive is everything. A church is made up of individuals. The vitality of the church emanates from those who make it up. The vitality of those who make it up emanates from their personal union with Jesus. Love is at the core of it all and “we love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19, NASB).” Without a passionate love relationship with Christ Jesus, our faith is dead. As James says, “…show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18b, NASB).” Stated differently, if what we DO does not stem from a vibrant attraction to know more intimately our Lord and Savior, then we are simply going through the motions without pure motive. Just as a husband and wife can potentially go through the motions of a marriage and forget that the main reason for their actions toward a successful bond is to be done out of a self-lost love of their partner; this type of relationship merely develops into an empty shell. Consequently, a marriage resembling the opposite is absolutely impossible without Jesus at its center. A dynamic marriage does not only take “two to tango,” it takes three! So it is with the church’s relationship with her Bridegroom! It takes the love of Three; the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9, NASB).”
The reality is when we fall in love with Christ, we serve Him and are not even aware of it. To be aware of it, desirous of recognition, is a viable indication we have “left our first love” (if we ever had it to begin with).