How would you like to go to a church which had a report from God almighty that said:
This church works hard; is patient; does not tolerate evil; checks out people who claim to be leaders and teachers and can tell the difference between those who are putting on a show and those who are real; is patient and bears up under stress; does not faint or give up under persecution; and does everything for the name of Christ?
Sounds pretty good, huh? But not to Jesus. He said that outweighing all of that effort, was the fact that they had left their first love!
He told them to repent, remember where they had fallen from, and go back to doing labors of love, not just labors.
He advised them to shape up or he would come quickly and remove their candlestick.
We are told to put our light on a candlestick to give light to all in this dark world. However having a candlestick with no light on it is pointless; having a candlestick with the false “light” of loveless, if dutiful, labor is even worse.
Being human, it is so easy to drift from the labor of love to either doing no labor while trying to maintain a bubbly infatuation or to doing labor that becomes an end in itself without relationship.
Think of marriage
We start out fascinated by the newness of it all, delighting in the love of the other person. We move on to being familiar with the other and take things for granted. We are to continue to invest in that person, adding to our initial love an ever-deepening intimacy and commitment. For “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I am blessed to be part of a growing church with lots of “first love” people. However, I fear that they might stop at just being saved and avoid the effort and struggle of growth, commitment, and lifelong deepening relationship with God and each other.
Jesus is Far More than Insurance
Jesus wants to be in all my thoughts and not just be an insurance policy or a fixer of my problems. He wants me to see all of life’s events as ways to walk together and get to know him more. He wants me to delight in his love and in the privilege of loving him back. He wants to be a fellow soldier, worker, sufferer, builder, etc.
I need to ask at the start of each day and of each endeavor, “Am I doing this because he asked me to? Am I doing it in his strength? Am I doing this in fellowship with him, talking to him and enjoying his company as we adventure together?”
One good way to tell if I am going it alone is to ask myself if the present moment feels like a stressor or do I see it as a challenge and opportunity. If it is a stressor, then I am going it alone.
Like marriage, it is not okay to say, “I told her I loved her and if I change my mind I will let her know.” I need to constantly check in on my tendency to wander. I need to build habits into my life such as daily quiet time with Jesus.
Remember that habits back up good intentions and make them stay alive and grow.
Check out the following words by Robert Robinson asking Jesus to help him keep his heart fixed on him. But remember we still have to do our part. I can’t expect God to make me stay on track while I actively wander off. Read 2 Chronicles 6 and 7. Solomon asks God to keep him on track and bless him and the Lord replies, if you do your part I will do mine.
As for me, I will work to ignore the storms and focus on my heavenly lover.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the face of God;
He, to save my soul from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Teach me, Lord, some rapturous measure,
Meet for me Thy grace to prove,
While I sing the countless treasure
Of my God’s unchanging love.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love:
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it
With Thy Spirit from above.
Rescued thus from sin and danger,
Purchased by the Savior’s blood,
May I walk to earth a stranger,
Walking hand in hand with God.