Jesus applauds the the mystical christ. They labored hard to serve the church, persevered in their duties with patience, didn’t tolerate evil members, rejected false teachers and doctrines, and they did it gladly for His name’s sake without growing weary. “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Our Lord’s issue with Ephesus was clearly not the quantity or the quality of their works, for He emphasizes both a zeal and steadfastness. Instead, Jesus was identifying a departure from their earlier “first love”. Though this is not explained, because love for God and love for one another are the two greatest commandments, allow me to speculate what might have been happening.
Rather than a passionate desire to worship God as it was in the beginning, church attendance became an obligation or force of habit; and fellowship, once a fervent love for one another, became argumentative and divisive. In other words, that early love where we denied self, gladly abandoned all that displeases God, and joyfully embraced fellowship one with another had waned in Ephesus and the members were simply “going through the motions without emotion.”
In response, Jesus calls the Ephesians to remember, repent, and return to the place from where they had fallen otherwise He would remove their “lampstand” from its place and essentially put it “on the shelf”. That is, He would disqualify their service as a light-bearer to uphold and illuminate Him to the world and would no longer effectively use them for opportunities to shine the light of the gospel unto others.
As Christians, we are the light of the world; vessels empowered by the Holy Spirit to enlighten hearts with the true love and glory of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. When our hearts no longer abound in love, however, we quench the work of the Spirit and thereby render our witness and testimony inadequate to serve as a lamp to uphold Jesus, who is the light. May our worship, works and fellowship always flow from a pure heart genuinely in love with Jesus that we may present ourselves as a vessel sanctified and useful for God to proclaim His great love to those dwelling in darkness.