How to Stay in Love with God

Third, success makes love complacent.

They’ve been at it, long and hard. And so these believers have built the greatest church in all the Christian world. By every standard they’re a success. And this is their problem.

Success always pushes us toward complacency. We’re doing so well, we must be right. My wife and I don’t fight, the money’s good, the kids are successful, all is well. But it may not be.

So many men say to counselors, “I had no idea my marriage was in trouble.” They’re successful at their work, their church, and they think, their homes. And they get complacent.

How successful is your faith? Can your love grow old? If you say it can’t happen, it’s probably already started.

Are you in Ephesus today? I’ve been there as well.

I’ve found myself preaching because it was my work. Not because I loved Jesus, but because I served him. It’s not that I didn’t love Jesus, but loving him was not the reason I was preaching. He was my employer, and the church was my job. I was preaching because it was Sunday. I was reading the Scriptures and praying because they were my daily obligations, like taking out the trash or cleaning up after a meal.

And I know I’m not the only person here who’s been to Ephesus. A Sunday school teacher prepares and presents her lesson because it’s her responsibility. She took this job and she’ll see it through. She loves the Lord, but he’s not really why she’s teaching today. It’s just her job at the church.

A choir member comes to rehearsal so he won’t be asked, “Where were you last week?” A committee member grumbles on Sunday afternoon, wishing she hadn’t agreed to serve again but going to the meeting anyway to keep her word. A father sits in church because it’s Sunday morning and his family expects him to be there. A woman puts money in the offering plate as though she’s paying another bill. They’ve lost their “first love.”

This is a process. We lose our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us and begin serving him out of obligation. We come to church for what we can receive, not for what we can give. We make time alone with Jesus into a routine, a habit, until that’s all it is.

We begin to serve our work. We want to impress people with our hard work and our integrity. When we do so, we assume we’re impressing Jesus as well. But we’re not.

Anyone in Ephesus today?

Staying in love with God

So, how do you stay in love with God? Three words are important here.

First, remember. “Remember the height from which you have fallen!” Remember when you loved Jesus first, and most of all. Remember when you came to church because you were excited to worship God; when you read the Scriptures and prayed out of gratitude for such a privilege. Remember when your faith was new and joyous.

Think back to the time when you first began to follow Jesus. How did your faith feel? How excited were you to be a Christian? How new was everything? Remember what it was like to be in love with your Lord.

Next, repent. The word means to change. Make a strategic plan for your soul. Determine what you’re going to do to make your love for Jesus real again. Act into feeling; don’t wait for the feelings to start. Spend an hour listening to Jesus, or a day walking with him. Decide what you’re going to change, to return to him as your first love.

Insanity has been defined as doing the same things but expecting a different result. Decide to make a change in your lifestyle. Change your heart and your life.

Last, act. Do this now: “Do the things you did at first.” The Greek is imperative here. Do something now. Make your decision today. Take your first step now. This is crucial. The cancer is spreading, the heart is dying. Act now.

Conclusion

Hear the warning of Jesus: “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” We know from Revelation 1:20 that the “lampstand” represents the church. Christians are the light of the world, so the church which holds us up is the lampstand.

Theirs is secure, well-funded, successful. Their future is bright—of this they are sure. But Jesus is not. He is clear: if they do not love him, they are not a church. And they will not have a church.

This is the most dire warning to any church in the New Testament. Their glorious church and their city will die, unless they fall in love with their Lord again.

What happened? Did Ephesus repent? Did her believers return to Jesus as the first love of their lives? Was their church restored to greatness? No. In fact, today there is no Ephesus and no Ephesian church. There are only ruins—ruins of her stadiums, her temples, her theatres. Ruins of her church. The lampstand has gone. Of all the churches in Revelation, she was the greatest, and now she is gone.

Remember the Temple of Diana, the pride of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? 127 columns, each 60 feet high, stupendous in their majesty. What is left? Just one. Because this church lost its first love.

If you’ve lost your first love, it’s not too late for you, yet. The next step is yours.