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Love lost and regained

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You have forsaken your first love…(Revelation 2:4).

Is there anything more tragic than lost love? Yes. Being the object of a forsaken love. It is a more difficult way to lose a love. Forsaking someone you once loved is bad when it is in the context of a human relationship, but how much worse when the one forsaken is God, himself?

In about 95 AD, Jesus made another visit to our planet. He visited an aged John the Apostle on the island of Patmos, off the coast of modern Turkey. John was there as a political prisoner of the Roman Empire for his unwillingness to reject Jesus as Lord and worship the Roman emperor Domitian. He had been banished, lost all his rights, lost all his possessions, and was probably forced to work in the Roman marble mines on the island.

In what must have been one of the lowest moments of his life, Jesus showed up. John heard a voice telling him to write. When he turned to see the voice, he saw Jesus. But it was not the same Jesus he was with in Judea. It was not even the same Jesus he was with after the resurrection. This was Jesus ascended, exalted, and glorified. I like to say that this was Jesus as he IS. When John saw him, he fell at Jesus' feet as though he were dead.

What Jesus told John to write is now the last book in the Bible. It is called Revelation. Chapters two and three contain seven letters dictated to John by Jesus. They were addressed to seven first century churches in the province of Asia, where John moved after the destruction of Jerusalem. Each contains words from Jesus that are just as relevant today as they were in 95 AD.

For instance, take the text for today. The church in Ephesus appeared to have it all going great. They were doing the right things, believing the right things, and behaving the right way. But something was not right. Jesus, knowing their hearts, said, “But I have this against you…you have forsaken your first love.” Their first love was Jesus himself! The most important part of authentic biblical spirituality is not believing the right things; not doing the right things; not even acting the right way. All those things are great…but when we lose our first love…our love relationship with Jesus…we miss the boat.

The ongoing peril of the Christian life is to live the Christian life while drifting from our love of Jesus. It is an especially problematic tendency for those who spend a great deal of time and energy “serving the Lord.” For those of us in ministry, it is an occupational hazard. It could be why 1,500 ministers leave the ministry every month.

The solution? Take time to spend time with Jesus. Read the Bible. Take time to pray and talk to him about the way you have drifted. Get together with other believers who are getting it right. Encourage each other. And remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing (relationship with Christ) the main thing!

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