Summary: Three steps for rekindling our passion for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can a person be too busy doing God’s work that they are too busy for God. I believe that the answer to that question is yes, you can. There are many people who are always busy with church work, but somewhere their relationship with God is being neglected. After a while, people just begin going through the motions, without really being involved. I remember from one of my psychology courses in college, that an individual, after performing a task for over a certain period of time, becomes habituated to it. It becomes a habit, without the senses being involved. Imagine just for a moment, what you went through this morning when you got behind the wheel of your car. You opened the door, sat down in the driver’s seat, inserted the key and turned on the ignition. You then placed the car in gear and began to drive to church. You accelerated once you got on the highway and began to drive somewhere between 45-55 mph. During this time, you are watching for obstacles in the road, increasing or decreasing speed according to the road conditions. You brake for the stop signs and red lights, speed up and slow down with traffic, all the time carrying on a conversation with some one else in the car, or listening to the radio. There are many different activities and actions that went into you driving to church this morning, however, most of you gave very little thought to what was going on around you and all the activity your mind was engaged in to make it here this morning. You become so familiar with driving, that you now give it little thought.
Some one once said that familiarity breeds contempt. As in every proverb, there is often an element of truth. If it is not contempt, often that which becomes familiar to us, we take for granted. This can be harmful in relationships when the passion is lost and then the relationship is basically taken for granted. This is especially so in the most important relationship that a Christian has, the relationship with Christ. The church at Ephesus had fallen to this level in their relationship with Christ. This was not what we would classify as a "bad" church. Christ had several commendations for this church. First, He knew their works, this was a dynamic, active church. The Greek word ergon, from which we get energy, is used for works. There were things going on in this church. I am sure that all the proper actions were going on, there were prayer meetings, Bible studies, acts of benelevance, and communion was offered. Second, this is what we would call a dedicated church. The word labor is used, referring to burdens and troubles which this church had suffered, but they were dedicated to continuing on. Third, this was a determined church. Christ commended them for their patience. Patience is used here with the idea of enduring whatever obstacles were before them. No doubt persecution had been thrown at them, but they endured. Fourth, they were commended for being a disciplined church, they could not tolerate evil, they believed in holiness, so you could call this a holiness church. Christ commended this church for hating deeds of the Nicolaitans. This group believed that Christ had given them such liberty, that they could continue to sin, without retribution. Last, Christ commended them for being a discerning church. They were not an "anything goes" church, they cared about purity in the pulpit and proper Biblical doctrine. For all of these things, Christ commended them.
However, in verse 4, He levies a serious charge against this church. Yes, it was a dynamic church, yes, it was a dedicated church, yes, it was a determined church, yes, it was a disciplined church and yes it was a discerning church. Yet, in spite of all these positives, Jesus knew that something was seriously wrong with this church. He said, Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. In other words, "I hold this against you, you no longer have your first love." To hold something against a friend or family member is a serious thing, but when the Lord of the Universe holds something against the church, it is time to tremble. The Lord Jesus is able to look beyond all the flurries of activity and look straight to the heart.
We would think that this must be a great church. I mean, to find all of this going on would lead us to think this must be the perfect church. I can just imagine what we might think, this church has a great youth program, they are involved in their community, they have a great choir, this has got to be the place. However, Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and goes to the heart of the matter. Despite all of their good deeds, this church had a major heart problem, and a church that does not have a healthy heart will not last long. This church no longer loved Christ as it once had. Their relationship with Christ was no longer vibrant, but now stale and taken for granted. They were going through all the right motions, but giving little thought to their relationship with Christ.