To the Loveless Church: Knowing When You Have Lost Your First Love
The Church at Ephesus lost its first love
There are seven churches in Asia listed in the second and third chapters of Revelation. They represent churches all over the world.
During Paul's second missionary journey, he stayed in Ephesus for three years, according to Acts 20:31. That was longer than he stayed at any other place during his three missionary journeys. Ephesus was once a thriving church, and Paul commended it in Ephesians 1:15 because of its love for God and for others. That was then, but things changed within the church and city. The older people died, and the younger generation did not have the same zeal as their ancestors. Jesus criticized them for forsaken their first love, and it was referred to as the "loveless church."
Ephesus that was once admired for its size, culture, economics, and many Greek temples today lies in ruins. That is what happens when a church forsakes its first love.
What happened to the church at Ephesus is what is happening to some churches and individuals today. Below are indications that your church and perhaps you have lost your first love.
"You have forsaken your first love." (Revelation 2:4)
Feelings about God
You have lost your first love when you replace God with everybody and everything else, and God is no longer your primary focus. You no longer have the zeal you once had for communicating with God on a daily basis. You don't find pleasure by studying the word of God and by meditating on God and the things of God.
It is evident that you have lost your first love when you no longer yearn for and take the time to fellowship with God. God is no longer the center of your life, and you stopped working in the Kingdom of God.
You have forsaken your first love when you follow what the world is doing instead of letting God be your standard.
You aren’t as hungry to read the Word of God as you used to be. You don't read it as often as you once did. Now you read it when you get around to it instead of making it one of your top priorities.
When you lose your first love, your standards drop to an all-time low. You begin to rethink the things you absolutely knew were wrong and you begin to justify them. In fact, sin from others and your own sins don't seem to bother you like they once did.
Feelings about Jesus
You have lost your first love when you don't think about what Jesus did for you on the cross. You take His life for granted and rarely tell others about Him and how He saved your soul.
You have lost your first love when you become ashamed of the gospel and neglects to read what the Bible says about the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn't seem to be an important part of your life any longer. You used to focus on Jesus, but now you seek satisfaction from other people and other things. Jesus is no longer the primary focus in your life. You follow people more than you follow Jesus.
When you have lost your first love, you will notice the things you gave up when you became a Christian have made them back into your life.
Feelings about the Holy Spirit
You know you have lost your first love when you are no longer led and guided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do the will of God, you dismiss it as meaningless.
You know you have lost your first love when your spirit is not connecting with the Spirit of God in every way. You don't experience the anointing like you used to. You seem powerless to help others know about God and His Son Jesus.
The main reason you don't feel the anointing like you used to is that you no longer engage in the spiritual disciplines such as prayer, praising, worshiping God, Bible study, and fellowshipping with others.
Feelings about Others
You have lost your first love when you don't appreciate God's people. You don't trust them. You think everyone is out to get you. You continue to do things that offend others instead of being a good example by doing what you know is right.
You no longer have the capability to forgive. In fact, you do everything in your power to make life miserable for others just because you are miserable.
You know you have lost your first love when you become complacent and don't make contributions to the world. You no longer have the zeal to witness to those who don't know as much as you do about the gospel of Jesus Christ. You seem not to care about their spirituality, and if the truth be told, you have put your own spirituality on the back burner.
Steps to Rekindle the Love You Once Had
The story of the Ephesian church is told through the words of John in the Book of Revelation. John relates to us Jesus' assessment of that particular church in Revelation 2:1-7.
Jesus compliments the Ephesians on their works and the love they first had for God and others. Then it was noticed that they had left their first love, according to Revelation 2:4. Jesus commands immediate action by telling them to repent and remember their first love.
That same commandment is given to those today who have lost their first love. They are advised to rekindle the love they once had for God and for others.
Revelation 2:5 says, “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."