Don’t Lose Your First Love
This past Sunday, our church began a study in the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. This church in Ephesus that Paul was writing to had a special place in his heart. He planted this church on one of his missionary trips and at one point, he had spent three years there - teaching and discipling the believers there in Ephesus. As he begins his letter, he opens with two words in his greeting to them. These words were to be a reminder and encouragement to them and should be a reminder to us today as Christians.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:2
Paul recognized the important benefits Christians share by beginning his letter saying in effect, “Christians, you have grace and peace because you are believers in Jesus.”
There couldn’t have been a better welcome to those about to read his letter.
Because grace and peace go together.
When a person comes to know God because of His wonderful offer of forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross - which is grace - that person then has peace - the absence of hostility - between that person and God.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2
“But wait there’s more...”
Grace and peace are not just for the moment of salvation - but for the rest of our lives. We are able to live in God’s grace and can receive the needed forgiveness when we sin. We experience peace through knowing that salvation can never be taken away. The people of the world are constantly striving for peace, which to them means an absence of war. People picket in order to bring an end to wars, and they pray for world peace. If we are just more tolerant towards others and their actions (sin) - then we can have peace!
But there will never be total peace on our planet.
There can be inner peace because God offers it as a result of knowing Jesus as Savior - which makes it impossible to be “at war” with God any longer. Inner peace is much more desirable than peace between nations. Furthermore, as a Christian it is attainable - peace in this world is not.
Ephesians teaches us about a whole new way to live - because of our position in Christ.
“New Creation People” pursue different lifestyles than the surrounding culture (2 Corinthians 5:17).That was a challenge in Ephesus - and it is our challenge today.
Don’t Lose Your First Love
Paul closes this great letter to the saints in Epesus with an implicit admonition - to love Jesus purely and simply:
“...love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Ephesians 6:24
“with love incorruptible” (ESV).
“unceasing, always, eternally, not interrupted by death”
Reading the book of Ephesians should increase our love for Jesus.
What is interesting about the church in Ephesus is that even though it had an amazing history - the final mention about this great church in Revelation 2:1-7 is that they “abandoned the love [they] had at first.”
Think about it - Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos, Paul, Timothy, and later John ministered to this church. These early church leaders were the Christian “super-heroes” of the faith. What a heritage!
Yet, just 40 years after the first generation of believers, they had lost their love. Though they were commended for spotting heresy they lost their love - they had a cold orthodoxy.
I think they had forgotten to pick up this letter of Ephesians that Paul had written to them previously and read it so they would be reminded of who they were in Christ.
We must do the same and we must ask ourselves...
Is our service to Jesus mechanical?
Are we just going through the motions?
Do we love Him, or are we just using Him for our own ambitions?
Jesus told them to repent - to turn and return to Him. That is what we must do if we have lost love for Christ: return to extolling and worshiping Jesus for who He is and what He has done.