As we think about what Jesus said to that church, the big question we should ask is not, ‘How right is our theology?’ Correct theology is essential, but if that is all that we have, Jesus does not want us to be a church. The big question is not, ‘What activities and programmes do we have?’ Such things are essential, but if that is all that we have, Jesus does not want us to be a church. There must be first love along with correct theology and helpful activities. If we have not got first love, we are on the way out.
How can we know that we have left our first love? If we spend time with Jesus in his Word, speak to him in prayer, and speak about him enthusiastically to others, we have our first love. If we don’t do these things, we have lost it.
How can we recover the lost love? Repent, says Jesus. I wonder how Jesus said the word ‘left’ when he described the failure of the Ephesians. Was he angry, sad, disappointed, loving? Sure, we can repent by looking at our failures, confessing them to Jesus, and experiencing restoration, and that is good. But we need encouragements to return, and one of the encouragements is that Jesus misses our company. He walked in the church in Ephesus and found them too busy to notice. Does that happen in our church?
Still, he made sweet promises to the members of the church and assured them that they could have a wonderful time yet in heaven. They were exhorted to become overcomers, even as we are exhorted. We overcome by depending on him and delighting in him. When we do, we can look forward to experiencing the fullness of life endlessly in the world to come.