"...Or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place." Rev. 2:5
"Or else" are two of the most ominous words in the English language. When they are used to describe the warning Jesus has for His church, they take on a whole new intensity. These two words pack a two fisted wallop of favor and fear. On the one hand, they promise that Jesus is coming again, but on the other hand, they point to the dire consequences of ignoring His call to return to their "First Love."
The Church at Ephesus could not be accused of being a lifeless church, but Jesus diagnosed it as being a loveless church. "The church that loses its love will lose its light, no matter how doctrinally sound it may be." Warren Wiersbe
Jesus called on His church to remember, repent, and redo the things they did at first. He promised that He would return, and He would remove their lampstand from its place, if they had not taken His counsel. Ephesus had a great reputation for being an active, tireless defender of the faith. Jesus knew that they lacked the ability to light up their community with His love, if they failed to add fuel to their own love for Him. Jesus knew the danger of cold hearted orthodoxy. It had been one of the driving forces of the self-righteous men who called on the Romans to put Him to death.
Personal love for Jesus keeps the heart of a church warm enough to receive people who come to their need of a Savior. Vance Havner used to say, "Some people are straight as a gun barrel theologically, and just as empty." Jesus wanted the first priority of His church to be a great love for Him, and this love would overflow to others.
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' (Deut. 6:5) "This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF (Lev. 19:18).' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
In the mind of Jesus, love was to be focused first of all on God, and then there would be an overflow of His love to pour out onto others. This was a consistent theme in His teaching right up until His death on the cross. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Jesus knew the Church at Ephesus was in danger because their lack of love for Him. Eventually, their service for Him would weaken, and then they would become irrelevant. "Beware of anything that competes for loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service to Him." Oswald Chambers
The warning that He would not hesitate to remove their lampstand from its place is in keeping with the Scriptures teaching on the authority of Lordship.
- "Whom the Lord loves, He reproves." Prov. 3:12
- "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent." Rev. 3:19
Jesus is the "Light of the World" and His churches are called to be guiding lights that point people to the love of God. The threat of the removal of their lampstand from its place meant that there is a grave consequence to loving the work of the Lord, more than the Lord of the work...darkness and irrelevancy. At the very least the Church was losing their witness in the community because their light was not shining as it should, and as it could. The rekindling of their love for Jesus was key to having the light of His love restored in their church and in their community.
The personal application of this passage should cause every believer to check the level of their love for Jesus. The greater the love believers have for their Savior, the greater the light of His love will shine into a dark world. Any church that loses its love will soon lose its light. Any believer that focuses on service more than the Savior eventually burns out and leaves a world in darkness.
First Love Awakening is a call for the church to plug into a personal love relationship with Jesus. When His disciples love Him and love one another, people "see the light" and find their way out of the dark and into the light of God's love.