Monday, August 12, 2013

Back To The Beginning

                When we first became Christians, one of the first books of the Bible we were told to read was the gospel of John. John wrote an evangelical book on the life of Jesus Christ. His gospel is known as the “spiritual gospel”. John was known as the disciple of love. He was the only disciple to die a natural death, but not for lack of trying. John was the disciple that leaned upon Jesus’ breast at the last supper. John was in love with Jesus Christ, and it is seen in his writings.

                How many of us today can say that we are in love with Jesus? We read our bibles, we go to church, we serve on various ministries, we fellowship and we love the body of Christ, but do we love Jesus? We love Jesus, but are we truly in love with Him? In a conversation with a sister of mine we talked about how this study in the book of John has made us fall in love with Jesus again. Even though we love Jesus, and we love the brethren, we both felt as if we had waxed cold in our love relationship with Jesus Christ. As I thought about this again this morning, the church at Ephesus came into my mind. Jesus speaks to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, and to the church at Ephesus He says:
                “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars, and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-unless you repent.” Revelation 2:2-5
                From all appearances this church looked good. They were working for the Lord, they had all the right ministries, all the right sermons, and those who would come to the church would have thought to themselves, “This church has it right!” It was a well oiled machine. To anyone who entered the church they would have thought that it was a happening church, it was very like many of our churches today. It was all great on the outside, but on the inside, Jesus saw the true motives of their hearts.
                They had left their first love. Pastor Chuck Smith states, “They had the right motions, but not the right emotions.” (Sermon Notes, Blue Letter Bible) They were working for all the wrong reasons. They were doing works to be a great church, to be known in the community, they were seeking the approval of man, not the heart of God. They were so focused on doing for the Lord, that they had neglected the one thing that was most needful, a relationship with the Lord.

                How many times have I myself got caught up in the day to day ministries, the works and the serving in the church and in my own home? I am doing all the right things, saying all the right things and serving in all the right ministries, but I have fallen away and neglected the one thing that is needful, I have neglected my relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe the Lord Jesus is calling out to all who will listen today to “Repent and Return”. Repent of the neglect towards Him and return to where it all started- your love response to His love for you.
                We have to fall in love with Jesus, my sisters. Being in love with our Savior is the greatest, most important aspect of our lives. It is the love that He has for us that propels us to love Him. It is the love that He has for us that caused us to respond to Him in the first place. We get so caught up in the day to day serving, the day to day things we have to do that we neglect the One who desires us above all others. Martha needed this lesson as well. Mary had found her One True Love and she chose to sit at His feet while Martha was more focused on the doing instead of the One who wanted to love on her. (Luke 10:39-42)
                We must realize that we have left Jesus, and the love that we once had for Him. We have become so occupied with works that we have neglected our First Love. Jesus tells us that we have left; we have given up on our relationship with Him and put other things before Him. What did He tell Martha? “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42) There is only one thing that is needed in our lives, and that is to sit at the feet of Jesus, to have a relationship with Him that is continually based on love, and not on works.

                We strive to become teachers in our women’s ministries, leaders in our churches, we seek to have titles, and honor and praise for our devotion to the church, but we have forgotten the One to whom all the glory and honor and praise belongs. We have left our first love, we have neglected Jesus Christ. Jesus is to be the consuming passion of our hearts. He is to be the only One we love, the only One we seek, and He wants to be the consuming fire of your life. It is all about Jesus, it is all for Jesus and it is all because of Jesus. It is not about us, never has been and never will be. It is not about how great our pastor teaches, or how wonderful the worship was. It is about Jesus and showing others what it looks like to be totally and completely in love with the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who took upon Himself the very wretchedness of your beings. It is all about Jesus, my sisters, and has never been about you.
                Jesus tells the church at Ephesus, and us today, that they have left their first love. They have not lost it, but they have left it. “The distinction between leaving and loosing is important. Something can be lost by accident, but leaving is a deliberate act, though it may not happen suddenly. As well, when we lose something we don’t know where to find it, but when we leave something we know where to find it.” (David Guziak, Commentary on Revelation 2:4-5, Blue Letter Bible) We did not lose Christ, we have left Him. We have left off the passion and the desire to know Him and Him alone. We must go back to the beginning and fall in love with Jesus once again.

                It has been and always will be about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about the church you attend, or the great things that the church does, because all these things are useless if there is no love. We must fall in love with Jesus my sisters, and go back to the beginning when He wooed us, when He drew us in His lovingkindness and called us His very own. Only one thing is needful in your daily life, and that is Jesus and His love for you. All these other things that we do are just a response to the love that we have for Him. If there is any other motive for doing what we do, then it is in vain and we have our reward. Fall in love with Jesus my sisters, it is the only thing that is needed, and it is the only thing worth living for.  Go back to the beginning, where you fell in love, and neglect Him no more. Amen and Amen.