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The Loveless Church

Dr. Stephen Phinney

“To the angel of the Church in Ephesus write: But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:1-7

Have you lost your first love?

The key indicator we as counselors watch for shortly before a divorce – did the couple lose the initial love that drew them together? As soon as this happens, divorce will begin knocking at their door. The same ideology applies to all relationships, friendships, business partnerships, and, yes, even with Jesus.

We live in a culture where the word “love” is used fluidly. It can roll off our tongue on a first date, to using it to express our emotions toward our dog. Ironically, these expressions are not “love” at all. Organically, their hormones activating something that empowers their flesh or a mental connection to something they care deeply about.

In 1 John, it communicates that “God is Love.” The most practical aspect of this phrase is that when we say we love someone, we impart God to them. To say you love your dog would translate out as I give God to my dog. How ridiculous is that? When we say that we love God, we are literally returning glory unto the Father. It is the same with Jesus. However, since love in our culture means an expression of intimacy between humans, animals, cars, food, or whatever, the covert confession reveals itself – this object brings pleasure to one’s desires.

Love has nothing to do with desires. It is a doctrinal statement of an exchange of giving one’s life to another in exchange for theirs. True LOVE with Jesus is an exchange of lives. He takes our life, crucifies it, and gives a new life in exchange – His Life. The age-old adage of He accepts you as you are, is a misnomer. He doesn’t accept your Adamic nature, nor the condition this nature manifested in you.

Furthermore, He loves the new you HE has readied Himself for the great exchange – new Life in Christ. Basic theology reveals that to be accepted into the family of God; each must be willing to have their old life brought to death (Rom. 6). It is the perfect process of inheriting pure love, acceptance & forgiveness. After each goes through this death unto life experience, the benefits of a mutual love-life between God/Jesus and man begin to manifest.

In the case of our passage, many members within the Church of Ephesus had lost this perspective in their daily living. I have always stated that deeds/behavior is the evidence of who your “god” truly is. With these members within the Ephesus church, they either lost sight of the great exchange the Lord took them through or didn’t make the exchange to start with.

Was Jesus too harsh when He sai