Scripture Reading: Zechariah 12:1-14:21 / Revelation 2:1-17 / Proverbs 30:1-10
Have you ever heard of Waldo? “Where’s Waldo” is a series of children’s books where readers are challenged to find the cleverly hidden Waldo in the picture. He has a distinctive red/white striped shirt, a stocking hat and glasses but is still very hard to find. He usually blends in and is overshadowed by everything around him.
A greater question for us is not “Where’s Waldo?” but “Where’s Jesus?” Sometimes Jesus is just another face in the crowd, hidden by the clutter of life. He isn’t very visible because He is overshadowed by the cares, concerns and desires of life. Some don’t even recognize Him but He does look familiar. Others know His name but can’t tell you if they saw Him. A few really look for Him but only during crisis.
The Ephesian believers lost Jesus in the midst of their “works” and church life. Jesus commended them for the perseverance in hardship and diligence in doctrine but adds, “Yet I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first love.” (Revelation 2:4) They no longer sought Christ as they once did because He was no longer their greatest desire and love.
The church in Ephesus experienced great revival and they were characterized by their love and devotion to Christ. They continued to be faithful but their strong and fervent love for Christ was missing. Their love no longer had the fervency, depth or meaning it once had. It wasn’t that their love had matured but they simply grew distant from The Lord. First love was categorized as first in time, place and rank. Their love wasn’t classified as “mature” but “waning”.
Their defect was a matter of the heart, not the head or will. They were simply going through the motions and Jesus calls the Ephesian church back to him. The word Ephesus means “darling” or “desired one” and Christ desired them to remember, repent and return. They were to, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first,” because “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (2:5)
Where is the lampstand or effective witness of Ephesus today? Sadly, Ephesus was a major harbor but now is over 6 miles from the sea, surrounded by a marsh and unapproachable by ship. Neglecting first love for Christ brings great devastation. Our orthodoxy maybe untarnished, zeal maintained and patience unwearied but if love is absent, our relationship with Him will become brittle and decay.
We cannot afford to be absorbed by this world and minimize the presence and love of Christ. He then becomes like Waldo, overshadowed by other attractions, desires and loves. It’s time to make Him first again in time, place and rank. Fan the flame of your first love for Christ…He is waiting with open arms.
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!