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Love is the Main Thing—The Book of Revelation
Week 17, 2016
This week we begin to address the Lord’s message to the seven churches:
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
‘and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.
‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent.
‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God’” (Revelation 2:1-7).
Some scholars believe the word “Ephesus” to mean “desirable,” but its origin and meaning are difficult to trace. Others consider it to be “discoverer,” “the first,” or “beginning,” all of which could relate to the early church.
This church is also commended because they “put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and are they not, and you found them to be false.” After the first century, apostles were not recognized by the church, so this would not have applied after this period.
The Ephesian church is also commended for its perseverance and endurance. The Lord also rebuked the Ephesian church for losing its “first love” (see Revelation 2:4). As Christians, we must guard against this first—getting so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget the One we’ve been called to grow up into. This is one of the greatest challenges every Christian, church, and movement will face. At first, the “first love” is so intoxicating that it is easy to be continually captivated by the Lord. Then, we slowly become familiar with Him, gradually loosing the passion we knew at first.
All who experienced this passion of “falling in love” and then maintaining the relationship through the maturing stages would wonder if it was possible to keep the extreme passion they had at first. We know scientifically that the release of endorphins causes this exceptional passion people feel when first attracted to each other, resulting in a drug-like euphoria. However, our bodies have a limited number of these endorphins, and they get used up in a few months. Once we use them up, we tend to crash, similar to an experience of coming off drugs. This can cause them to think “the honeymoon is over” or that they have “fallen out of love.” They haven’t, but their endorphins have run out and they need to move on to a more mature, deeper relationship. Those who get through this transition agree that the mature love is better.
This is true in human relationships, but the Lord rebukes the Ephesian church for losing the love they had at first. In Him, we can actually keep the same kind of passion for Him that we had in the beginning. When we meet the Lord, or are born again, we may not have endorphins firing off, but we have something much better—the Holy Spirit. The euphoria we feel when baptized in the Spirit is far greater than anything we could feel from a drug. The best part is that it is not an illusion. Instead, we begin to touch, or be touched by, the infinite reality of the power of the Lord and His goodness. As we are told by Isaiah, there is “no end to the increase of His kingdom” (see Isaiah 9:7). The Lord said that we would have a well of living water springing up from within that would never run dry. This is something that does not ever have to end, or even ebb, but can actually continue to increase in our life.
Even though most Christians probably experience times of drifting from the River of Life, we don’t have to. When we do, we need to recognize it and return in haste to the passion we had for Him in the beginning. In Christ, this river does not run dry. To get back, we need to do the things we did at first—read, study, and seek to know Him and His ways. Tell others about Him, and don’t forsake the bonding together with other believers that we are called to and that 1 John 1:7 tells us is essential for those who “dwell in the light.”
Human passionate love is intended as a type or model of our relationship to the Lord. In Scripture, such models are called “types” or “shadows” (see Hebrews 8:5), implying they only have the substance that our shadow has compared to us. The love we have with God can be more substantial than what we experience with any other human. So, how could we have this kind of passionate, virtually all-consuming love for the Lord and still function in life?
I inquired of the Lord about this several years ago and was given a brief experience of this love. It was so all-consuming that it was even dangerous in some ways. I was so consumed with God and His love that anything or anyone I looked at, I loved like I had never felt love before. I could look at a telephone pole and be utterly captivated by how wonderful it was. Despite having used many types of drugs in my BC (“before Christ”) days, I never experienced any kind of high that came close to the love I felt in this experience. However, I could also hardly function, just as if I had been on some drug-induced high. When this lifted, I asked the Lord how we could walk in something like this and still function. I was shown how I had to mature in this gradually, along with self-control and wisdom, to turn my feelings into action.
I am a goal-oriented person who can feel really bad if I don’t think I accomplished something each day. However, what we become is more important to Him than what we do. Our highest purpose as human beings is to love God. We only attain our higher purpose, and what we are called to do, by love. As 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, without love, all of our works do not count. It is good to turn our love into action, but we must never forget that the love itself is the main thing.
next week 18