“Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
It is such a wonder how we so easily lose our way, break the focus and become derailed, even though we remain active. It is just that we are actively going the wrong way, or doing our own thing. All our activity, if we do not keep in mind and in heart what is truly important, is vain and unpleasing to God.
Consider Jesus’ statement above to the Church at Ephesus, as recounted by John. He started with a stirling report of their activities, acknowledging their passion, and then gave His criticism: just one flaw – “you don’t love Me like you did before!” And for this, He was willing to disown them and cast them away.
Don’t let the fact that it was just ONE criticism stop you from acknowledging their great failing. It is not a small fall, but a great fall, to lose your love for Christ!
But we so easily do, while apparently keeping our passion for all things holy. We get immersed in the work of following God that we so often lose sight of Him. We become more directed about what He revealed in times past that we have no time to listen for what He is saying today.
Many of us start our relationship with God as learner drivers, ready to learn everything there is to know. But soon, we become experienced drivers, who take the same routes and often drive on ‘auto-pilot’. And don’t forget the road rage, especially at the new or learner drivers that are getting in our way! Though we never stopped driving, we probably stopped applying the same care and attention, and adopted bad habits, forgetting the basic principles of driving. And least of all, desiring to refresh or update our learning. If we do not repent, we may very well lose our license or have a fatal crash!
The problem is we often don’t realise when this is happening. It is especially hard when things seem to be going so well in every area of your life. Your ministry is flourishing, business is growing, family is prospering, relationships are pleasant…life is good! All evidence points to someone who’s made it spiritually or is very close! But then something happens…
Yes, one of the pieces of the puzzle falls away or crumbles, and you realize where your heart truly has been by the extent of your anxiety or devastation. You thought it was God you loved the most, that you did it all for Jesus. But now you can’t think of anything but how your perfect world is falling apart and what YOU can do to save it. You worry and forget that you were never meant to have it perfect on Earth, but if you hold on to God, He’ll direct your paths (Matthew 6:25-34).
This is not to say we can’t be passionate about our ministry or work or love our family and friends, but hear this: “anybody who loves mother, father, son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37) and in Luke 14:26; “if anyone comes to me and doesn’t hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life also, cannot be My disciple”. Tough nuggets to swallow!
It doesn’t have to take a tragedy for you to realize what is most important. We are told to hold everything that comes with this life lightly, while grasping to God and His Salvation through Christ for dear life! That is the real prize, not any momentary joy we experience on Earth. Jesus doesn’t want us to despair when challenges arise, but to look to Him as the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
When He comes, will He find you at attention, sincere and expectant, or will you be caught red-handed, reveling in the world and its tokens?
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