5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Whenever I’m with my parents, I love to talk and listen to their stories of our lives as we grew up as a family and about their own families and childhood. We end up laughing and showing more teeth than you’d ever see at a horse show. Even the really hard stuff doesn’t diminish the lighthearted joy we experience. Remembering an earlier time is the beginning of the process Jesus wants the church at Ephesus to do in order to return to their earlier love.
In Acts, we read about the church in this city, and how they shined the Light on the wayward ways of the populace, stirring up riots over their beliefs against idolatry. They were still pursuing them when this letter was penned, and Jesus called them good. However, Jesus told them that these pursuits had led them away from the love they had at the beginning. They had fallen away, or left behind, their first love.
This idea of still doing good things, but leaving behind the love we first enjoyed in our relationship with the Lord still happens today. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, most likely we’ve done the same thing. This isn’t purposeful. In the relationships we have, either with our spouses, our deep friends, or the Lord, the feelings we had at the beginning slip into some sort of ‘normalcy,’ without trying. But, thankfully, there’s a way back! We’ve already spoken about the first step, and that’s to remember.
The next step that Jesus tells the Ephesian Church to do is repent. While this word carries centuries of dogmatic stigma, it’s really a very simple thing. The Webster dictionary defines it as turning from sin and (re)dedicating oneself to the amendment of one’s life (emphasis mine). Simply put, it’s turning from the wrong direction and (re)turning to the right direction (emphasis mine).
The final step is a ‘do-over.’ Go back to where we once were, when things were in the proper alignment, and do those things once again.
If you find yourself like the church of Ephesus, where you’ve wandered afield from your first love, perhaps now would be a really good time to do the Jesus-defined process. Remember the time when your first love was first, jotting down some of what you did. Then, however it is that you prepare for soul-filling conversation with Jesus, get there and sincerely repent of your wandering, keeping in mind that repenting involves turning away. Then, renew and invigorate your love as you had it at first! Be a newlywed in your relationship with Jesus such that all will know!
By Rich Obrecht