In chapters two and three in the Book of Revelation the Apostle John writes to the seven churches of Asia Minor. He first addresses the church in Ephesus. He commended it for carrying on its work in the face of great difficulties, for rejecting false teachers, for speaking against sin, and for not growing weary. It was loyal in its practices and doctrines and, like most or our churches today, it thought it was a church with which God would be pleased.
Following his commendations John pointed out one major complaint. It is found in Revelation 2:4. It is a complaint that all of our churches should heed. John wrote, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love" (NASB). What was John saying? He was saying that they had become so mechanical in their motions that they had lost the miraculous devotion that they had experienced when Jesus Christ first became real to them. They had become caught up in their rituals and they had lost sight of the reality of the relationship that they had experienced with the One who made it all possible.
Does this sound like any church that you know? I think we would have to agree that many churches are so caught up in budget, programs, image, and hundreds of other things that they do not have energy left to simply bask in the good news of the Gospel. It is not that churches are doing the wrong things. It is that they are too often not doing the main thing. We would be wise to learn from the Shorter Catechisms derived from the Westminster Confession of Faith. In answer to the question, what is the chief end of man, it says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
When was the last time you glorified and enjoyed the person of Jesus Christ? Most of us have been so busy doing the business of the Church that we have not had any energy left to really enjoy the blessings of the church. Consequently, we have not fully enjoyed the peace, joy and abundance that He wishes us to have.
The good news is that John gives us a solution to this dilemma in the next verse. He wrote, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Rev. 2:5a NASB). You could call this the “3R’s” of restoring the joy of our salvation. First, we need to remember the joy and excitement we felt when Christ first became real to us and we invited Him into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord. Second, we need to repent of becoming too busy to have time to spend in developing our personal relationship with Him. Third, we need to return to the things we were doing at the beginning of the relationship. We need to devote ourselves to private time for reading the Word, praising God for our blessings, and praying privately to Him about all of our needs.
Imagine if every church followed John’s instructions to remember, repent and return to the way things were spiritually in the beginning. For to happen, it must start somewhere .We may not be able to speak for our entire church, but each one of us can speak for himself or herself. If enough of us would follow John’s admonition to remember, repent and return, we could revolutionize our churches. Sounds like an exciting way to start a New Year.