Regaining Our First Love

Christians who lack a hunger for God are spiritually unhealthy.

I’m not suggesting that every season of our lives will go “up and to the right” on the bar graph. Seasons of drought are inevitable. But in a general sense, a lack of appetite for God is an indicator something is off in our soul. When a person has no physical appetite, it is a sign of sickness. The same is true for our spiritual lives.

***

Jesus tells the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:3, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”

The church of Ephesus, once a beacon of zeal and light, has regressed. Jesus says they’ve lost something. They’ve abandoned something. What is it? The love they had at first. They’ve abandoned the love for Christ that once marked their church and hearts.

Many churches today could receive the verdict of Ephesus by Jesus. So could many individuals. The judgment is one each of us should sit up and take notice of.

What does Jesus mean by this? He’s not saying their beliefs have wavered. This is not a theological or doctrinal drift. He’s also not accusing them of slipping into rebellious living. Losing their first love is not blatant disregard for Scripture’s commands. In fact, Jesus commends the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:2 for their theological rigor and unwillingness to put up with false apostles. They work hard.

So what does Jesus mean that they’ve abandoned their first love?

They no longer prioritize and pursue communion with him. Their love for Jesus is waning. Their affections have gone cold. Their beliefs and behaviors are still solid, but now they go through the motions. Their hunger to know Christ and draw near to Christ are noticeably missing.

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When you examine the state of the church today, the sin of Ephesus runs rampant. Believers have settled for far less than what Jesus came to save us for. I preached this past Sunday on that subject. We’ve traded intimate communion with the Living God for a religion of beliefs and behaviors. But God made us and saved us for more than that.

Why don’t we pursue it like we should? Why is it so easy for us to abandon the love we had at first?

Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan pastor once said, “Our fallen nature is allergic to God and never wants to get too close to him.”

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Here’s the challenge I gave our church yesterday: Perhaps in this season of quarantine and disruption from our normal routine, God is calling us to draw nearer to him. Maybe the opportunity in front of our churches is to pursue God with fervor and desire that’s been missing for a while.

What if the church of Jesus comes out of this season with less in our 401(k) and checking accounts, but we have more of God than ever before? Gain! What if God’s purpose in this season is for us to regain the love we had at first? Maybe for some people, that great desire for God has never been there. In the providence of God, this season demands we be still and know that he is God.

Spend more time in prayer. Fast. Read the Word to hear from God, not go through the motions. Take a walk down the street and set your mind on some truth about God’s character. Sing songs of worship to the Lord with you during social distancing. Draw near. Don’t waste your quarantine.

Let’s use this time on our hands to press in further than ever before. May the great crisis of 2020 serve as a great catalyst for love of Christ to increase. May the church shine bright not only in our love of neighbor, but may our love for Jesus overflow into thanksgiving and worship for the world to see.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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