Revelation chapter 2 begins the next section of this book, The Letters to the Seven Churches. This section of Revelation through chapters 2 and 3, details the message or letters that John was instructed about in Revelation 1:11, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” The entire book of Revelation, including these specific letters, would then be sent to those churches and a blessing was pronounced on all who would read, hear, and keep the words in this prophecy.
Christ’s purpose in sending these messages to the seven churches was to empower the believers to overcome the enemy. The early church had experienced intense persecution and corruption was beginning to spring up in the church. This message of prophecy was to encourage the believers in Christ’s victory and to make them stronger in their faith. As we look at some of the messages given to those specific churches, my prayer is that you open your heart and mind to what the Spirit of God is speaking to you about personally today.
In verses 1-3 of Revelation 2, Jesus commends the church in Ephesus for their work in the Kingdom of God. Verse 2 says, “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance”. The Ephesian church understood who they were in Christ, how to walk with Him, and how to engage in spiritual warfare, standing up against heresy because they were grounded in the Word. The church at Ephesus was not idle or lazy, in fact, they were very busy working for the Lord and fighting against persecution.
And for all these good things, Christ commends them. But as you continue reading, Jesus says this in verses 4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have lost your first love. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” You see the Ephesian church’s problem wasn’t moral living or understanding doctrine. Their problem was they lost their passion for Christ. Jesus counsels them to return to their first love, to keep Jesus first in their hearts.
The church had started out strong, but over time things had begun to slowly change. A generation had come and gone since Paul had preached to them. While they had remained faithful to the Word, something was lacking. They had lost their passion. Their fire for Christ and the mission that had motivated them for so long had burned out.
What happens when we lose our first love? What happens when the passion we once had for Christ becomes replaced by legalism and self-righteousness? A rigid form of Christianity that focuses more on religion than relationships? In the case of the church in Ephesus, the ruins of the city are under a swamp. The church at Ephesus died, and the city died around it.
But what about us today? What happens when we lose our first love? We begin to see the world as our enemy instead of our mission field. We become insensitive to the Holy Spirit. We become content with what we are instead of being driven to become more like Christ. Jesus desires that each one of us would love Him like He loves us: passionately. That we would never lose our passion for Him or His mission. We, the Church, are His bride and He loves us like a husband loves his wife.
Jesus closes this message to the church in Ephesus with a warning: “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” This is where Christ’s message speaks to each one of us as individuals and corporately as a church. The passion of the church is only as great as the passion of its members. If we are on fire for Christ personally, that passion will be reflected in our church. But if we grow cold in our love for Jesus, that coldness will infect the church.
So my question for you today is: have you lost that passion? That fire you had when you first surrendered your life to Christ? Jesus is asking each one of us the same thing he asked the church at Ephesus. Repent and turn back to Him. Remember where you once were. Realize how far you have fallen. And come back to Him today! Pray that God would restore that burning passion for Him and His mission back to you!