Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remember Your First Love

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. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which 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. ~ Revelation 2: 2-5

In this passage, Christ is reminding the Ephesians' that their passion and zeal for Him has faded. Their heart no longer burned with that deep love for Christ. Yes, they were doing good things. Yes, they were serving Him and keeping true to their faith. Through false teaching, they persevered. They recognized and confronted evil, remaining faithful to the Word. All of this, Christ recognized however, more important than this was that their love for Him had grown cold. They had become so wrapped up in religion and moral purity that they had forgotten what it was that transformed them in the first place.

How often we all are guilty of this today. We can be on fire for the Word, proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel, sharing the good news and yet, lose sight of the reason behind it all. In our passion for the lost, we must remain focused on the main thing... Our love for Jesus Christ (Mark 12:30).

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."... Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." ~ John 14: 21, 23

I think it's interesting how marriage is used throughout the Bible to demonstrate the relationship between the Church and Christ (Ephesians 5: 22-33). The love of the groom (Christ) for the bride (the Church).

Remember that powerful, passionate love you first had when you were dating your spouse? When you couldn't get enough of each other and nothing else in the world seemed as important? You couldn't sleep, concentrate or get them out of your mind. So too it was when we first became a Christian. When the Holy Spirit opened our eyes and transformed our hearts. It truly was a "born again" experience. The never ending desire to know Him more. You couldn't get enough of His Word. You looked forward to being around other Believers and sharing this new found love with everyone you came in contact with. As we became more aware of His great love for us, our thoughts, actions and desires changed. Why? Because through Him, we were awakened to a love for Him. It was Him who pursued us and Him who loved us first (1 John 4:19). Remember that feeling when your spouse first told you they loved you? Multiply that by a zillion and you start to scratch the surface of Christ's love for us.

How do we keep our love for Christ from growing cold? In the same way we do in marriage. We demonstrate love by putting them first and showing how much we value them. We move beyond mere feelings to a deeper intimacy through surrender and submission. Surrendering our will and submitting to His. Living for Him and dying to self. In marriage, we can say "I love you" and we can do all sorts of nice things for one another but, if we don't spend time cultivating intimacy, the love fades and we simply go through the motions. This is especially true in our Christian life when it comes to doing good things. We can go to church, go on mission trips, help the poor and be very religious however, unless we maintain a growing, intimate relationship with Christ by spending quality time with Him (bible study & prayer), the love (on our part) begins to fade.

Fortunately for us, God never stops loving us nor does He grow weary or bored with us. His love is an all-consuming love. It's because of this love that His Spirit reminds us when we're drifting from Him. On the outside, we may appear to be quite religious and God-loving. Inside however, we may have wrong motives and selfish desires. The key is to remain in Him and not become consumed with what we do but why we do it. Not because we look good or even feel good but because we love Him. If we love Him, we'll keep His commandments and we'll feed His sheep (John 21:17).

If we love Him, we'll desire more of Him, less of the world and less of us. We'll be consumed for Him to the point where everything else seems meaningless and we can't help but share Him with the world.