To wrap up our discussion about the church at Ephesus, I want to look at the words John wrote in the book of Revelation. In the Apostle’s vivid vision, which happened while he was exiled on the island of Patmos, he was given messages of wisdom and instruction for each of the seven churches in Asia. As we’ve seen over the past couple of days, the Christians in Ephesus lived in an atmosphere of persecution and hostility. Because they wouldn’t worship the image of Artemis or bow down to the emperor Domitian, they were oppressed and mistreated. Nevertheless, they endured and stayed strong in their convictions. However, through John, the Lord communicated the one thing He had against them — that they had forsaken the love they had at first. While many read this and assume it refers to their passion and zeal for Jesus Himself, what the Lord is truly saying is that they had grown cold in their love for each other. While they “hung tough” and didn’t compromise their beliefs, they were hardened in the process. Gritting through so much injustice, they lost sight of one another and of the warmth and kindness that used to grace their fellowship. From this state, the Holy Spirit urged them to repent and resume once more the acts of generosity, friendship, and charity that had been their hallmark from the start.
My friend, stay strong in your convictions and be unwavering in your zeal for truth, but never lose sight of people. Though life is hard and times are trying, keep your heart open and tender toward others, and don’t stop spreading the love and good cheer of Jesus. You are here to be a light in the darkness, and you make a huge difference by simply being open, available, and encouraging to those in the six feet of space around you. If you’ve grown weary, ask the Holy Spirit for help, and He will give you the grace and compassion you need to wholeheartedly return to your first love.