This passage is found at the beginning of a section of scripture that can most easily be described as the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation. These were seven churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. The one we are going to focus on is the letter to Ephesus.
Ephesus was the leading city of the Provence of Asia. It was a religious epicenter, home to multiple temples, including three temples set aside for the worship of the Roman emperor, and also home to the temple of Artimis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and reported to be the largest structure in the Roman world. Ephesus was a trade center with roads from all over Asia Minor converging on its shipping port, and the main landing point for any ships from Rome. This was a major city. And also home to a church established by the apostle Paul, almost 40 years previous to John writing Revelation.
In this passage we find praise for a church that has stood strong in the face of adversity. A church that knows scripture and tests all those who would attempt to teach. A church was has not grown weary despite all the hardships it has faced. This is high praise; especially considering the one speaking in this passage is none other than Christ himself.
And yet despite this high praise, all is not well in Ephesus. While they are intellectually strong in the Lord, Christ says they “have forsaken the love you had at first.”
Here is the truth I want to share with you today. When we first come to Christ, it is often with love and adoration. That love pours out of us on to every person that we meet. I can still remember the uncontrollable desire I had for God’s word, because I wanted to know everything I could about this God who loved me enough to sacrifice His son for my failures. But over the years it is so easy to lose sight of that love. Our faith becomes a series Sunday morning services, perhaps a daily prayer, maybe even a reading of scripture on occasion. Everything changes. This is just as true of our walk with Christ. And what I have found as a minister is that often instead of falling more and more in love with Christ, we take the easy way out. We turn our faith into an academic routine. But in the life of a Follower love is the first and the last commandment. It is not enough to come to church on Sunday, to read your bible, to pray. Without love, nothing we do is enough.