“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 the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV)
This is Jesus speaking to the Church of Ephesus. At first glance, this church seems to be doing ok. This church works hard, persevere, has no tolerance for wicket people, exposed false apostles, and had no tolerance for the Nicolaitans, a group who practiced sexual immorality. This church decided that those were the important things, and in the process, they forgot to love God.
We continue to minimize the vital importance of the first commandment of loving God above all things. We keep putting things ahead of Him. We keep making excuses for our anemic relationship with Him and our lack of passion for his Word. We make time for everything and everybody, except what is truly important… HIM! Jesus made this point very clear when Martha complained about her sister Mary not helping her.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)
Jesus tells Martha and us today, that we are anxious about many things, but only one thing is needed and that is, to put God first, to love Him above all things, and to spend time with him. If the folks who were there understood who Jesus was, everybody would have stopped what they were doing and sat at the feet of Jesus. However, most folks in that celebration were the same as folks today; they had their priorities upside down: building buildings became more important than spending time with God, running around doing ministry, doing, doing, doing; building universities, charities, hospitals, etc. becomes more important than the simplicity and power of spending time with God.
Beloved, some folks speak of believers falling into sin, falling from grace, etc. However, the Church of Ephesus, just like many believers today, fell from the first and, most important commandment, that is, loving God above all things. In our anemic relationships with God, in our waking up in the morning and going on with our business without acknowledging our Creator; we are saying that we don’t need God. To this God gives us a warning, “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.” Revelation 2:5 (NIV)