The greatest human virtue, characteristic or attribute is our capacity to love. Love is so important to us that love or lack of love can define us and direct us. Love is the greatest gift we can offer others and the most precious gift others offer us.
Today we continue our series called Measure Up. The question facing the church at Ephesus was, does your love measure up? This question is important to any church.
While Ephesus was not the capital city of the region, it was the leading city. Three major trade routes converged on their busy port making it the gateway to Asia and enabling the city to become both important and wealthy. It was one of the most important religious sites, with the temple of Artemis (Diana) being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It also held the title Guardian of the Emperor cult, with three temples dedicated for the worship of the Roman Emperor. We can learn more about this city from a Christian perspective reading Acts 19 and Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Although Jesus could commend this church for many good things, it was not measuring up to the love he expected them to have. “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4–5) There are two views regarding the focus of this first love; they are not mutually exclusive, and both may apply. One refers to their first love for Jesus, the other to their love for each other. In Christianity both these aspects of love are inter-related. Jesus appeals to them to remember how their love had been, and to repent so as to return to it. Without love, even doing those things they were commended for failed to fully measure up to what Jesus desired from them. It is like Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 13: without love I am like a clanging cymbal, I am nothing and I gain nothing. Love is an essential element in everything we do and who we are as Christians.
Here at Greyfriars we focus on living in love as part of what it means to be a spiritually healthy church. We desire to live in love in our relationship with God and with each other. We want to encourage each other in that love, to fan the flame of love so it burns brightly. We want express and enjoy the selfless love that Paul describes as kind, protective, trustworthy and hopeful.
The Apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8). This helps us maintain our first love when we model our lives on God who is love, draw on God who is the source of love and are born again into this family of love. With God’s help we are able to live in love and maintain our first love for him and his people. As individuals, and as a church family, we can thrive when we are surrounded by this love and filled with this love.
So, let’s follow Jesus’ words and make it our goal in life to love God and to love our neighbour.
What could you do personally to reinvigorate your first love for God?
What practical expression of love do you find most encouraging in the church?
Rev John Malcolm