Where’s the love?, pt. 2

John writes to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the most influential cities in Asia. It was a large city (250K+) and was the center of wealth, trade, politics and religious activity. One of the religious attractions was the Temple of Diana (Artemis). It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World with more than 100,000 square feet. It had over 127 pillars that were made with marble, gold and jewels. In essence, this became an institutionalized center of worship of false deities (idol gods, emperors, images, etc).

From Jesus’ letter to Ephesus you can learn 2 principles for staying in love with Jesus:

Love for God (or anyone) does not happen on accident.
The Ephesian church was a strong church. The apostle Paul stayed there for three years and Timothy was one of its pastors. Even the apostle John resided there for some time. Apparently the church was not idle or lazy since Jesus knows their deeds, hard work and perseverance. At one time they were known for being a church of great love (Eph 1:15). Yet, their condemnation was that they had forsaken their first love. In other words, they had become so involved with the work of ministry that they lost their motivation and first love.
The question is, is their first love with God or with other people? To answer this question I think one only has to examine John’s other writings. John says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21)
Activity and movement in ministry (church activity programs) can become routine, and in a sense dull and cold. Every day, week, month and year should lead to evaluation of personal mission and purpose according to Jesus’ commands. If a program activity or task does not lead to yourself & others loving Jesus more and serving others then drop it! Don’t waste your life in the endless circle of insanity. Invest in your relationship with God and with others, Jesus did.

People do not fall out of love as much as they fall out of repentance.[1]
Jesus gives the Ephesian church two solutions for renewing their first love. The first is to remember. The command to remember is a call to reflect on the past to reignite the original passions they had for God and people. Jesus said, “do the things you did at first.” Loving Jesus is meant to be simple as any other relationship. The second solution is to repent. Repentance deals seriously and honestly with sin in a person’s life. The reason love grows cold is not because feelings of love have grown cold as much as feelings of selfishness have increased temperature. When decision-making and solutions to problems start with a “what pleases me” attitude, then you know it is time for repentance.

• How does a person become in love with another?
• Which is easier – to love God who you cannot see or to love others whom you can see? (See 1 John 4:19-21)
• Do you think a person can “fall out of love”? Explain.
• What does it mean to repent? Can you give a specific example of how this is done in real life?
• Jesus told the Ephesians to renew their first love by “doing the things you did at first”. What do you think some of those things were?
• What “first things” did you do when you began your relationship with Jesus? Have you stopped any of them?
• What does Jesus mean that he will remove the church’s lampstand? Do you think this is possible for today’s church? How about for your own life?

[1] This line comes from book, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.

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