Church of Ephesus – “Thou hast left thy first love.”

June 1, 2016

The Annual Meeting of The Mother Church is Monday, June 6th, 2016, and you may access it via this link in the upper left of our homepage:

The next several readings on Wednesdays will be on the subject of church. The bases of the readings are Saint John’s message to the seven churches in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, and Mary Baker Eddy’s analysis of these same churches in her Message to the Mother Church for 1900 (pages 11-14).

There have been many articles written on the subject of “church hurt” from different denominations, whether it was due to corrupt clergy, poor decisions made by church administrators, or because of the conduct of church members. What is so interesting is that each of the seven churches in Revelation also suffered from a “church hurt”; each of these errors is described, and then a remedy is given “to him that overcometh.”

John recorded this message about the first church, Ephesus:

“I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works;…” (Rev.  2:4,5)

I used jsh-online because I wasn’t sure what was meant by “first love,” and some of those articles appear on the readings page. Here is a short list:

Remember the fire that once burned within you! Repent, get back to where you were when you first heard about Jesus! Do the first works, rekindle the first love you felt for God, for each other—and for healing the sick!” (Mary Trammell)

“the light of pioneer enthusiasm” (Horace Pullar)

“the Christ, or true idea of God, that had first inspired them and had proved so practical in healing.” (Warren Luedemann)

“Our first love must be love for Church as the spiritual idea of God rather than for the many organizational tasks we must carry out. This first love is then manifested as useful, progressive, relevant dedication to the church in its healing mission.” (Geoffrey Barratt)

I also looked at some books on Revelation written by Christian Scientists who defined “first love” as follows:

“the teachings of the truth,” Edith Armstrong Hoyt, Studies in the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, page 32

“I applaud you for your vigor, but I also know where you are falling short. You have forgotten the cause that underlies your purpose — light, enlightenment….Infinite God supplies infinite light, not finite things, not better human situations or relationships. Never, at any moment, seek the things. Never claim the things as personal possessions.” George Denninger, Revelation: The Prophecy and Fulfillment of Man, pages 21-22

And then there is this pithy statement I read from patheos, an evangelical website: “We must never mistake the fruit of the tree for the root of the tree.” (Jonathan Storment)

All of these definitions enlarged my understanding of this rebuke, “thou hast left thy first love,” but this description by Kay Kyser (a famous band leader, Christian Science lecturer and teacher) is my favorite:

“I remembered that John was speaking of the love this church had at first. It had cooled. But I got to thinking of “first love” as meaning “most important love”—then, now, and always. I felt sure God was and is my first love, but, gratefully, not the unknown one Paul said the men of Athens worshiped (see Acts 17). I treasure the seven synonyms for God Christian Science has taught me to find stated or implied in the Bible (Spirit, Mind, Soul, Principle, Truth, Life, Love), plus the many other terms for Deity used in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science.

I thought: All terms aside, my first love actually is who or what I set my affections on, put my trust in, give power to. Can I in good conscience say, “Yes, I love God first and most”?…It’s study harder; pray more often; declare continually that because God is omnipresent, and because man is His manifestation, we can’t leave the Father and the Father can’t desert us. …From such study and prayer we can expect not only to feel God’s presence but to be reassured that we are forever the Father’s first love—regardless of how inconsistently He is ours. But is it enough to profess to adore God supremely? …. So, to prove God is my first love, I must first love; love my neighbor as myself.” James K. Kyser, “First love,” October 1978 issue of The Christian Science Journal)

I appreciate what Kay Kayser wrote because he jointly identified our first love (God) and our first works (loving man).