To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
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. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:1-7)
It’s easy to get distracted. You need to refill your coffee cup, so you go to the kitchen. There, you see the milk needs to be put back in the refrigerator. Before you know it, you’re back in your office and your coffee is cold. Ephesus was a prosperous port city along the Aegean Sea on Turkey’s west coast. The first of the seven letters that Jesus dictated to John was addressed to the church there. The seven lampstands represented the seven churches of Asia Minor, and the stars in Jesus’ hands represented the members of those churches.
Jesus told the Ephesians that they had lost their first love. Jesus once told his disciples that people would know they were his disciples because they loved one another. When hatred for sin changes into hatred for those who sin, Christians have lost their first love: the redeeming love of Jesus who came to save sinners, to call sinners, to reach out to sinners. Jesus warned the church in Ephesus that should they not change, he would remove their lampstand: that is, they would cease to be a church. Where love has been replaced by hatred, the unity of the body will crumble and the members will scatter. Churches die when hate replaces love. We need to remember to offer sinners redemption rather than condemnation.