Do you remember?
Who can forget their first love? The excitement we felt when that special person entered the room. The anticipation of seeing them and the connection that was made as eyes met. The experience of first love, with all its innocence and purity, was never to be repeated—for that is the way of “first things”.
Remember the first time you professed your love for Jesus Christ? With that experience came the same excitement and anticipation as our first earthly love. Unlike most first things that eventually lose their luster, it is important for us to make every effort to nurture and cultivate our personal relationship with our First Love, Jesus Christ.
How’s love today?
Are we feeling distant and estranged from God? Do our prayers appear routine and repetitive? Is our praise predictable and puny? If we answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time for us to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) and see what is hindering our personal relationship with the Lord. God never changes (Malachi 3:6) nor has God moved. Maybe it’s time to return to our first love for Jesus.
The church at Ephesus had persevered and endured hardship for the Lord. This was a critical part of the early church’s responsibility to insure a clear and true presentation of the gospel (Eph. 4:1-2). In general, this church had continued in its faithful service to God for more than 40 years. While all these “efforts” were important in the development of the early church (as it is now), there was something noticeably absent. They had left their first love for Jesus.
Time to return.
Jesus lays a charge of carelessness in Ephesus’ relationship with Him in Revelations 2:4: ” Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
In the literal translation of today’s text, the order of the words in Greek emphatically denote the strong rebuke directed to the church. “Your first love you have left!” This second-generation of believers, had retained purity of doctrine but were lacking in deep devotion to Christ.
As believers, we must ask ourselves if we too are careless in cultivating our relationship with the Lord. Remember the first time we professed our love for Jesus Christ? With that experience came excitement and anticipation. Are we now guilty of taking our eyes off the Lord? Are we more concerned with our personal agendas than practicing the presence of the Holy Spirit? Have we left our first love?
And what can we say about the Church, Christ’s bride (Rev. 19:7-9)? The Church needs to heed the same warning given to the Ephesians. Orthodoxy and service is not enough. Christ wants hearts as well as our hands and heads (Matt. 22:37).
How can I return?
Last week, we agreed that repentance is the starting point to return to God. Once this has taken place, we might consider the following strategies to return to His side (1 John 1:3).
Recommit ourselves to Him. Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16) Recommitment involves renewing your loyalty to Christ and His lordship over your life. This includes directing your time, talents, and treasures to the service of the Lord. We are so grateful that there is nothing that can ever separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:39).
Renew our love for Him. I will love You, O LORD, my strength (Ps. 18:1). Tell the Lord how much you love Him. Although He is all-knowing, He still wants to hear us tell Him how much we adore Him. We must let Him know that we desire Him with all our heart and soul (Ps. 42:1-2). Let us show our love for Him through our praise and worship. We are never closer to Him than when we “love on Him” (Ps. 22:3).
Reprioritize our life around Him. Christ set the standard for priority when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6: 33). However, to make God the center of our life is counterculture. When we place Christ first in our life, we are assured that we have chosen the “Good Part” (Luke 10:42).
It’s time to return to our first love! He is waiting for us (Isa. 30:15, 18).