Lost Love - Triumph of the Lamb

Revelation 2:1-7

For a few minutes, let’s pretend we have just received a letter from Jesus addressed to CACC, 725 Brotherhood Way, SF. What do you think the content will be?

Will there be a paragraph or two commending our work here, our faithfulness?
All the work we do for the Food Festival?
How about commending us for driving up here every Sunday?
However, will there be any disapproval of the things we do?
Will there be any warnings?

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” (2-3)
“Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”(6)

What kind of attributes do we find in this church?

Jesus first commends them for being a hard working church. “I know that you have the zeal for preaching the TRUTH. I know that you are not tolerating false teachers. I know that you do have good doctrines. I know that your teachings are right and biblical” (Acts 20:28-31). Even Paul instructed Timothy to stop false teachers from teaching in Ephesus. (1 Tim 1:3). In verse 6 we read the name of one of those false teachers, Nicolaitans, about whom we will hear more later in the message to the church of Pergamum (2:15).

Jesus first commends them for being a church that perseveres and endures persecution. It seems the pagan society persecuted the church because of the church’s faithfulness to the Gospel. Let me remind you how Paul was persecuted by the Jews in the synagogue, as well as by the Gentile merchants who profited from the tourists who came to see the temple of Artemis. Neither false teachers nor persecution discouraged this church.

It looks like a good, solid, active church. What was wrong with it?

Yet, and yet… I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love (4)

After all the good qualities for a church to have (hard work, zeal for speaking the truth, not compromising with the values of the world, not compromising their doctrine with false teaching, standing firm in their faith against persecution) yet they have lost an important thing: their first love, their passion for Christ, their inner fire towards Christ, their FIRST LOVE for Him.

What kind of Love?

Is it Love towards God or Love towards the neighbor? It is not mentioned here. I believe love towards the neighbor and love towards believers are driven by our Love towards God. John writes in his letter “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). This was the problem they faced. It looked great on the outside, but it was cold inside.

It reminds me of the love relationship between married couples. You fall in love and you get married. How fragile do our relationships become when somehow love is lost during the years? How awkward are relationships when there is no passion to love the other?

Jesus gives three Commands:

Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent,”(5)

Three verbs: remember, repent, repeat (do things)

1. They are to remember how life was when they first met Christ, the passion and the zeal that they had towards Him.

2. They should repent, and turn to God. “Restore the JOY of my salvation” is our yearly topic. David was an active king serving God, yet he lost his passion for God because of his sins. As a church, we all need to repent and turn to God.

3. They should repeat and live the life they used to live. It is important to stop a minute and ask: “Do we need to do all these activities? Why are we doing all this? Did we compromise our Love towards God and it was replaced by activities? Do I need all these unnecessary pressure that I created around my life?”


“I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (5b)

If Ephesus refuses to hear Jesus, there will be consequences. They will cease from existence. Today not only the church does not exist, they city of Ephesus is gone, and archeologists are working to bring back the lost city.


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”(7)

Who is the overcomer? He/she is the one who has the ear to listen and obey what Jesus is saying. In our context, he/she is the one who maintains the first love, who remembers and repents, and lives the new life accordingly prioritizing the church’s ministry and mission.

What does it mean for us today?

I am worried that in the daily work of the church I have the temptation to stay active but forget my first love for God. While I was preparing this message, I asked myself, “Is my first love for Jesus still active in me?” Then I asked myself, “Does CACC have its first love for Jesus?”

Last weekend I was in Kansas. I went back to my homecoming. Yes that was the place that prepared me to go back and serve with music. That was the place where I grew up in my faith. That was the place that shaped my vision to serve God. It was nice to be in a place where life was simpler and slower. A place where people greeted you even though they do not know you.

I look to our life in the Bay Area and the rush that we live worry me. How much is the world penetrating in our life-style? Where is the limit to say No to unlimited hours of work, and say Yes to things that bring us back to our first love?

What makes us lose our first love? Perhaps during the week we live in a world of fantasies that promise us a good life. Let me quote from a friend who is pastor at the PBCC, a local church. “The dangerous fantasies from those fed us by Madison Avenue, by Wall Street, and Sand Hill Road. These fantasies arouse longings that disease our minds and hearts. They have all the appearance of reality, but they are fantasies.”

We are bombarded with these fantasies. We meet on Sunday to reconstruct our mind which is fed for six days with these lies. We live in a deceptive world. The reality of life hits us when suddenly an accident, a sickness, a shocking event… comes to our home, and we are awakened to see life with new eyeglasses.

We don’t need those to be awakened. The message is clear to us. I started the message with the letter we got from Jesus. We just read that letter and it is addressed to each one of us. Please ask this question:” Have I lost my love?”

Let us sing the Irish song “Be Thou My Vision.”

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


Rev. Nerses Balabanian,
Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco