I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Revelation 2, NIV)
The Church at Ephesus sounds like the kind of church that I would want to join. Clearly they had accomplished deeds, worked hard, guarded truth and even suffered. It sounds like they would be booking conferences to speak about their church growth programs. Yet God is displeased because they forgot to love Him in the process. Casella writes these words…
You run with the wind in your face
You stand like a child of grace
And this blood on your hands
Is the wine on your lips
From whose body you've broken
And betrayed with a kiss
We live in a world that we stole
Just like thirty silver pieces we've bought and sold
So when you dream at night of what you love the most
Do you find yourself haunted by the Holy Ghost?
Because I swear I heard a whisper telling me what's right
Saying we're both sinners baby and I'm no Jesus Christ
I think of the church in the United States of America when I listen to Jeremy Casella's song. While so many blame the culture, politicians and media for the decline in America I have a sick feeling that the real problem is me and you. I wonder if too many of us in the body of Christ in America have forsaken our first love? The church in America has had abundant resources and the blessing of freedom to live these truths. And we have too often forsaken our first love. Would the culture be in this state if the over fifty million Christians really lived and demonstrated the grace of God and the liberating power of the Gospel of Jesus?
A famous line from the old cartoon Pogo applies here.
"We have met the enemy and it is us."
Of course the real enemy is Satan. But we have allowed this world to influence and neuter our message. But I am still a half-full guy. I still believe in the power of revival and the potential of grace to change hearts. The chorus of Jeremy Casella's song gives hope. And it is real hope that cannot be found in the Nation's Capital.
Is it ever too late to learn what the truth is worth?
Are we too far gone to return to what we loved first?
Because I want to go back to the place that I started before
I can see through the gate but I can't take the heat of the sword
That is the awesome news today. It is not too late. Carl Bard once said this. "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending."
All of us have an opportunity to trust God for a brand new ending. Perhaps a good way to conclude is to remember Paul's prayer for the church at Ephesus that was later reprimanded.
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3, NLT)
We can do this because of Christ. Let's not forget our first love.