When describing an ideal church, we think in terms of it having a reputation in some key areas: We would list good works done under difficult conditions, a spirit of endurance, an environment where the unrepentant do not feel welcome, where false teachers are exposed for what they are, and where brethren take persecutions in their stride. Given this profile, most Christians would feel that such a congregation is a good place to be.
However, Jesus didn’t think so!
This, of course, is Jesus’ (paraphrased) description of the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:2-3). Though he acknowledges their hard work, he counts it as irrelevant in his condemnation of them. Thus, the Ephesian church would have been shocked when Jesus added:
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
I would sum up Jesus’ accusation in this way: “You have moved on from me. I am no longer the purpose you exist as a congregation, and whatever “love” you say is motivating you, it is not a love for me!”
“Remember the height from which you have fallen!” he tells them. Before they could “repent and do the deeds you did at first,” each of them had to return to the day of their baptism; the day that Jesus became their “first love.” On that day each one of them humbly repented of their sins and dedicated themselves to the work of the Kingdom.
With our Ephesian brethren we remember where we started. Going back to that time of great rejoicing and zeal. We wasted no opportunity, we told everyone about the goodness of Jesus and his church. And herein was the reason for the great “height” of our new birth: Jesus was our “first love” because we knew the “depths” from which he had lifted us by his grace.