Exhibiting Christ-like Love: Lessons from the Ephesian Church

In his epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul mentions love 20 times. He describes both the “vertical” love between the Lord and His people, as well as the “horizontal” love that believers should have for others. Paul commends the Ephesians for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their love for the saints. He urges them to remain steadfast as they teach the Gospel and combat false teaching. He also reminds them that they must walk in love as they hold firmly to the truth.

Image courtesy of reasonsforhopeJesus.com

Like Paul, Jesus also has words for the church at Ephesus. In the letter to the Ephesian congregation, Jesus commends the Ephesians for their solid doctrine and their firm stance against false teachers. They have heeded Paul’s counsel well in this regard. 

The Lord acknowledges their labor and their toil: He sees what they have endured for His Name’s sake. However, Jesus has a major charge against the Ephesian church: the congregation has abandoned its first love. Jesus warns the church that if they do not repent, see how far they have fallen, and return to the love that they were commanded to have, then Jesus will return and do away with their congregation.

Brothers and sisters, this should grab our attention. Jesus certainly cares about the truth because He is the truth. Jesus also cares greatly about love. In fact, He declared that the world would know that we belong to Him by our love for one another

Prayer of Confession and Petition

A church that does not love well does not rightly reflect our God who is love. As Christ’s ambassadors, we must couple sound biblical truth with love for the Lord and our neighbors. Failure to do this not only distorts our witness to the world, but it also invites discipline from the Lord. 

I invite you to pray this prayer with me:

Triune God, You are good, and You alone are worthy of all praise. You have done so much for us, and You have been good to us. You have loved us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. You have taken dishonorable, rebellious sinners and welcomed us into Your royal family by cleansing us, adopting us, and declaring us to be Your sons and daughters. You have lavished grace upon us. You have redeemed us through the blood of Your Son. You have guaranteed that we are Yours by sealing us with Your Holy Spirit. You have promised never to leave us nor forsake us, and You are altogether faithful.

Sovereign Lord, help us. We confess that we do not love as You have commanded. Forgive us, Father, when we behave like the Ephesian church by doing many things in Your name but failing to love You or Your people. Lord, we know that if we have all knowledge, teach proper doctrine, have faith that moves mountains, give all that we have to the poor, and lay down our very lives, it still profits us nothing if we do not have love.

Lord, enable us to walk well before you in truth and in love, just as You commanded the Ephesians … and us. Father, open our eyes so that we can see our neighbors as You do, and empower us by Your Spirit to love them with the Savior’s love.

We need You desperately, so please go before us, Father. Be our strength, our shield, our refuge, our fortress, our friend, our song, and our love. Protect us from the world, our own flesh, and the evil one. God, help us to want You and to thirst for you as if we are in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Yes, stir up our hearts and move within us so that we may want You that much, Lord. Help us to adore You, to be in awe of You, to be moved by You, to seek You, to pursue You, to be captivated by You, to wait for You, to long for You, to trust You, and to obey You.

Please be with us and help us to love You and others well for the advancement of Your kingdom, for the salvation of the lost, for the strengthening of your church, for our good, and for your great glory. We ask this in Jesus’s name and by Your Spirit. Amen.

How can you show the love of God today? So many people are hurting, and your love and act of kindness may be the one good thing they see today. Read through Ephesians to see just how much God desires that we love one another, even those who seem unlovable.

At the College of Biblical Studies, we equip our staff and students to see others through the eyes of God. Our students learn how to lead with excellence while loving others. The world needs leaders who understand God’s principles on loving others. At CBS, you’ll be trained in a biblical worldview that leads to transformation. Are you ready to transform your world? For additional information on enrolling at the College of Biblical Studies, please visit our website at cbshouston.edu/ or call us toll-free at 1-844-227-9673.

Dr. Brittany Burnette Hansen serves as Associate Dean of Distance Education and Professor of Christian Education at the College of Biblical Studies.

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Dr. Brittany Burnette Hansen

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Dr. Brittany Burnette Hansen serves as a Professor of Christian Education and the Associate Dean of Distance Education for Faculty & Curriculum Development at the College of Biblical Studies - Houston. She served as the Academic Dean and Headmaster of Plano Christian Academy, where she taught Latin, political philosophy, Church History, Biblical Studies, and rhetoric. She is a co-editor of A Reader’s Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers with Dr. Daniel B. Wallace and Terri Moore (2013). She also served as a research assistant to Dr. Darrell Bock for: Jesus According to Scripture (2002), Jesus in Context (2005), The Missing Gospels (2006), and The Baker Exegetical Commentary on Acts (2007). She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale University, a Th.M. in New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary. Dr. Burnette Hansen lived in Seoul, Korea for two years, where she earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She loves Alabama football and resides with her husband in Wisconsin.