By Rev Dr Clive Chin
“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev. 2:4-5).
Darkness is never so dark as when a redeemed Christian isn’t satisfied in God. Such a person has lost a spiritual appetite for the Word of God. Sermons are heard blithely via digital platforms but do not resonate with our soul. Prayers, if uttered at all, have become rote. Such a condition is what Scripture describes as “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” Like the neurological disease, where symptoms include difficulty in remembering recent events, spiritual Alzheimer’s is a condition of spiritual wandering, when our heart for God turns cold and we take our spiritual life for granted.
In Rev. 2:1-5, after commending the church at Ephesus about their patient endurance, intolerance of evil, suffering for Christ’s name, and exposing of false apostles, Jesus confronts them. Although this church looked amazing “on paper,” Jesus points out their main issue, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Not only were these Christians experiencing a paralyzing unhappiness in God, but in their hearts they have abandoned Christ in their quest for truth about Christ.
The prescription to spiritual Alzheimer’s is (1) to remember those days and occasions, when you sought Christ with all your heart. Do you remember tasting the goodness of his salvation, when you worshiped him with “unspeakable joy?” From the conviction that comes from realizing where you once stood, then (2) we need to repent. Tell him you’ve grown cold and indifferent toward him. Tell him that you’ve entertained other loves or idols. He stands ready to forgive and to restore. Amazingly, God calls us (3) to return to where we once fell. He calls us back to that fresh fire of love towards him and our neighbour.
This is a call to action. It is a call to return to the spiritual disciplines of grace. It is a command to keep ourselves in the love of God, from which not even trouble, hardship, persecution, or famine can separate us (Rom. 8:35).