Today just about everything is automated. You can program your heat to go down and your dishwasher to come on while you sleep. In the morning, your coffee can be brewing before you even get up. Our friends have a little robot vacuum that goes around cleaning the floors on its own. We can set sprinklers and lights on timers, turning off and on when we choose. And we’ve all heard about the future with self-driving cars.
The idea behind all this automation is that we can get lots done while thinking about something else. Well, let’s not let our Christian lives become automated. It’s possible to get into routines of godly practices with no thought of God in our hearts.
The ancient church of Ephesus got caught in this trap. They were all duty, but no delight. Jesus says to them, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil . . . I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary” (Revelation 2:2-3). Works, toil, purity, endurance–all for the name of Christ. Good things! But their efforts were empty.
The Lord rebukes them, saying, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (v. 4). This church was busy doing all the right things, even protecting the right doctrines. But it wasn’t from the heart. They became satisfied in their service for God, while their hearts moved on to other interests. Their Christian life became automated, so they could focus on other things.
But God doesn’t call robots into His service. He doesn’t want our cold obedience. He wants our love! God first loved us (1 John 4:19). So, may we return to our first Love!