You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
In John’s prophesy our risen Lord addresses seven churches of the revelation. The church at Ephesus is the first church reference. The words used are I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love. I have always associated this with our love for Jesus Christ. Although that is of utmost importance, I think that is not what He is referencing in this portion. In the book of Ephesians most every reference in regards to love clearly points to their human relationships with each other. At the very end of the book there is one reference to their love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As Paul addresses the Ephesian believers he warns them about divisions and the conditions in people’s hearts that lead up to fractures within the church. These are alluded to in the book of Acts. They are warned about in Ephesians, and in Timothy he speaks about specific individuals by name. The seriousness of keeping unity takes on a powerful admonition that if they did not work at their relational issues, they would lose their lamp.
The revelation portion of scripture is about love deserted not lost. The issue is that love must continue. Prior to this verse the church is encouraged because of their endurance and suffering. They had great faith in the Lord Jesus and they were able to go through very difficult things yet the next thing said is you have left your first love. I must emphasize that it is a deserted love. They have known it, but they have walked away from it.
The Ephesian church in so many ways was exemplary. They were a profound church. They could even be called the ideal church. Yet here they are being admonished because of a deserted love. Moffat’s translation states the love you had for one another. If that is true, it should cause us real heartfelt reflection in regards to our relationships with each other. Our love for one another should have the investigation of the Holy Spirit’s inquiry. Can our love pass the investigation of the greater community the city in which we live? Jesus poignant words are by this shall all men know that you are my disciples because of your love for one another. This deserted love for each other as God’s saints clearly is laid out here. It is the greatest witness of our connection to Jesus or our hypocrisy before the world. The trait of broken relationships with individuals and churches has marred our Christian witness for too long. I conclude with this: I am not asking you if you love Jesus. I am asking you if you love one another, truly love one another.