“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelations 2:4)
To sum up the problem: they were doing all the right things, but no longer for the right reason. Their first love, the motivating force behind doing the right things, had changed. It had shifted to something, or someone else. Jesus was still a part of the reason or motivation, but he was no longer the first and most important reason!
Many people cannot fathom how this could be. It is often because they do not really fathom, or comprehend the depth of love and devotion that God requires. They may be able to conceptualize it in their mind, but in their heart they really do not have it. In their heart they actually equate this to the level that human love operates at. But this is based upon divine love. The devotion and sacrificial love that Jesus brought down to man by his sacrifice and infilling of the true Holy Spirit.
Jesus was asked what is the “first” and most important commandment, and his reply was very clearly stated:
“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:29-30)
The Lord is “one Lord”, he does not share this position with anyone else, nor anything else. Therefore the Lord requires from us, not some, not most, but all our: heart, soul, mind, and strength. Anything less than this is not “first”. And if not “first” there is a resulting consequence that will inevitably follow, which will result in us doing what we do for the primary motivation of pleasing the mind of some person or group of people, or ourselves. This will lead to people being “king” in the Church, and not Jesus Christ. The result of this will be that the city that is supposed to be “set on a hill” (the light of the single, standout Church of God) will end up coming down to the level of being controlled by men, including all the associated politics and opinions of men that comes with that. (see Rev 8:8)
The light of the one true Church of God is supposed to stand out bright and clear in the dark night of sin that covers the world; just like the ancient city of Jerusalem sat on a hill, and at night the lights (burning lamps) could be seen a far off as a mountain burning in the night. In Matt 5:14-16 Christ speaks concerning this light of the Church:
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Did people leave their first love soon after the early Christians started out. Yes. Has this happened again since that time. Yes. In fact, within the last hundred years this has happened too many times and in too many places.
Many places that one time stood out clear for Jesus Christ, and free from all sin and division: don’t any more! At one time they were part of the clear candlestick light of the Church of God. Today they have fallen from their place, and now men rule there – not Jesus Christ. They still claim the name, and they claim to be servants of Christ, but men have established their own Church identity by adding their requirements, and by no longer teaching the full Word of God. Especially, they have left off their first love – Jesus Christ, and the important work Jesus died for: the seeking and saving of the lost for God’s glory!