We see many couples in counseling who have tunnel vision. What I mean by that is all they can see are the things wrong with their partners. It’s like they have their hand about one inch in front of their eyes and all they can see is the bad. If they took away their hand from their eyes they’d see all the good things which they love about their partner. Because of the hurt and the pain of the bad things, they often announce to their partners that they no longer love them. In fact some will even go so far as to declare that they want a divorce. Really? Is marriage built solely on love? That's a pretty fickle foundation. Love is certainly a big part of why we marry, but it shouldn’t be the only or even the biggest reason. A big reason for marriage is commonalities: common values, common interests, common faith, and common goals. But what about love? How do couples who’ve fallen out of love recover that lost love?
Believe it or not, Jesus talked a lot about recovering lost love in the book of Revelation, and He gives a proven prescription for recovering lost love. Here’s what Jesus tells the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4, 5, But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Founded by the Apostle Paul, the Church at Ephesus was a strong, doctrinally-sound congregation. They had been taught by Aquila and Priscilla, the dynamic Christian couple who instructed the eloquent orator, Apollos, in “a more accurate way.” The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesians for two years and wrote one of his prison epistles to them. They had Timothy as their pastor. Wow! Talk about a church with a powerhouse pedigree; the Ephesian Church was it.
But, though doctrinally sound, they had gone off the rails in their priorities. It is no accident that Paul exhorts them in his epistle to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). The church was strong on truth and doctrinal purity but weak on love. In fact they had lost their love for Christ! No amount of doctrinal purity can substitute for lack of love. There must be balance between the two. If we are doctrinally sound but do not love, our words will be rejected. As the saying goes, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” On the other hand to be top heavy on love but do not speak the truth, our words may be embraced but we will lead others astray.
Jesus tells this powerful church in Ephesus His prescription for recovering the love they’ve lost for Him. It is a three-part prescription. Part one is REMEMBER. Remember the past when you did love Christ, when you were new believers and couldn’t get enough of the Word. When you were excited about worship. When you couldn’t stop sharing your faith in Jesus with others. Remember is the first part. In the case of couples who have fallen out of love, the first step toward recovering it is to REMEMBER what attracted them to one another in the first place. Remember how they felt and how they behaved. Remember how they used to express their love when they were courting and as newlyweds.
Part two is critical to Jesus’ prescription, REPENT. Jesus gives no explanation beyond simply commanding the Church in Ephesus to repent. They had grievously sinned by abandoning their love for Jesus. They needed to repent. So do couples who have fallen out of love. They need to repent meaning they need to turn 180° in their thinking. They have sinned in allowing their relationship to degenerate to this point. They have sinned against one another. They have sinned against their children (if they have any). They have sinned against their parents. They have sinned against God to whom they made covenant vows “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you..” Jesus’ solution to our rebellion, Repent!
Part three of His prescription is “do the deeds you did at first.” Homiletically REPEAT is a good synonym to use. Remember, Repent, and Repeat. Jesus tells the Church at Ephesus to go back and repeat the attitudes, the zeal, the behaviors they used to have when they were new believers. The same is true for couples who’ve lost their first love. They need to Remember, Repent, and Repeat the deeds they did when courting and as newlyweds. In so doing they will recover the love they’ve lost for one another.
If we love one another, God abides in us (1 John 4:12a),