The Ephesian church must have looked like a beehive. They labored with intensity to advance their mission and ministry, all the while supporting each other in the face of persecution and keeping a discerning eye out for doctrinal error. By every human metric they would have been deemed a successful church. With the exception, of course, of keeping the Great Commandment.
When Jesus addressed the Church he did more than point out the glitch in the system. He gave them the corrective to resolve the issue. The first step Jesus offered was for the Ephesians to remember. Memory is a powerful tool. Last summer Lisa and I were driving through Kirksville, MO, and since we had a little extra time we drove to the church my dad planted in the mid 1960’s. Even after a couple of building expansion plans, the setting was familiar. The parsonage that occupied one corner of the property is long gone, but much of the campus was just like I remembered. This was the church of my childhood, and more importantly, the setting where I first encountered Christ. If you discover you don’t love Christ or his children as you once did, take some time to reflect and remember.
The second step that Jesus gave was for the Ephesians to repent. Repentance is often viewed as a negative term and is frequently misused by those who use the Bible to demean others. But its a good word, a biblical word, an important word. It simply means to have a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. Its the recognition that things are not in order and that an adjustment is needed.
Finally, Jesus called them to return to the works that they first performed. Jesus is not suggesting that more work or different work will produce love. He’s saying that they need to return to love as the primary motivation for their interactions with both God and human kind.
Remember, repent, and return. That’s how we return to our first love.