Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place‒unless you repent.
The church in Ephesus was located in a place of great spiritual darkness. Not only were false gods worshiped as real, but human rulers also had temples built in their honor there. If we can imagine a place of great evil and corruption in today’s world, we might say that is the kind of place Ephesus was when Revelation was written. The church, therefore, would have stuck out like a sore thumb and likely been the object of ridicule or disdain, and this admonishment hits at a key feature of many churches in that same predicament. It is a feature of some of today’s Church as we are confronted with a national and a world culture which differ greatly from God’s character and precepts. The question is one of whether we hold fast to the Lord.
An issue for the Ephesian believers was the emergence of false teachings within that body. We can attribute this to any number of factors, but regardless of the motivation behind any teacher’s twisting of solid doctrine or inventing blatantly false doctrine, the result is always the same. It is a corruption of the word of God and the presentation of who He is as a result of the world’s influence and pressure. The Ephesian believers were forgetting who their God was and inventing new gods to follow. Their new gods might have looked very much like their Lord, but they were not. These believers strayed from their first love in their allegiance and dedication to one mistress of their invention after another. It is in this context that the angel tells them to go back to the beginning and practice what they practiced when they first believed in truth.
We always have the option to chase a version of God that makes us a little less conspicuous in the world or a little more comfortable with our faults or a little easier to conform to. The truth is that it is not easy to follow the Lord in this world, and we must get used to that. As corruption reigns and multiplies, we will be more and more different from the world, and we have to be okay with that. We continually must remember the truth of God and hold fast to that, or we will start following that which does not even exist. If we want to keep our lampstand and remain a part of the Church, we must revisit our doctrine regularly and ensure that it conforms to the truth. Father, stir up in us a new dedication to our first love so that we would remain in your truth against any opposition.