From the President

Marilyn and I just returned from a wonderful trip with 62 friends of Young Life. We retraced some of the journeys of the Apostles Paul and John in Malta, Greece and Turkey. One ancient city that involved both of these great servants was Ephesus. It was in Ephesus that John served out his last days. Here he was arrested and sent to the island of Patmos where he received the vision that became the Book of Revelation — a vision that included receiving a special letter from the Lord to the church at Ephesus. Paul visited Ephesus twice in his missionary travels and, of course, wrote one of his great epistles to the Ephesian church.

One of the hallmarks of these trips is having the pleasure of studying a passage of Scripture relating to the place where we’ve been or will soon be. Just before our day in Ephesus, I had the privilege of helping us focus on Acts 19 (Paul’s second visit to that city) and Revelation 2 (the letter to the church in Ephesus). We were particularly struck by Revelation 2:4-5, where the Lord praises the church for their deeds, hard work and perseverance, and then says this:

“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 and remove your lampstand from its place.”

Remember. Repent. Do.

One analogy we discussed was that of falling in love and then being married over a long period of time. On the trip, we had a widow who had been married 64 years before the death of her husband, a couple married 50 years and several younger couples who had been married two years or less. The realization was clear: even for younger couples, the feelings and experiences of “first love” had changed over the short time they had been involved in courtship and marriage.

Love changes. It can deepen and mature and not have the same emotional intensity it had when it was so new. But unless we work on that relationship, it can become dull and stale. We can be married but experiencing the loss of our first love.

Evidently this happened to the Ephesian church in their relationship with Christ. They were applauded for their success in living in a difficult city that threatened their faith. BUT THEY HAD FORSAKEN THEIR FIRST LOVE. And the Lord reminded them that this love was paramount and more important than doing the right things. So He told them to REMEMBER, REPENT AND DO.

Remember what it was like at first. The enthusiasm for spending time with Him. The desire to share what was going on in your life with others. The sense of worship, awe and gratitude. That had been replaced or lost. The next step was to repent of what had happened to the relationship. But just being sorry wasn’t enough. They must do the things they had done at first. Whatever had made the relationship their “first love” must be pursued.

That was a crucial message 2,000 years ago and still is today. We can get caught up in our deeds, hard work and perseverance, and discover that our relationship with Jesus is in need of life support. I suggest we do what the Lord told the Ephesians to do. We stop and remember. We repent. And we do the things we did at first.

If this happens, there will be a newfound first love experience, energizing us, giving us joy and putting us in lockstep with the Risen Lord as we walk with Him.