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New Year’s Resolution: Jesus First

repentYou have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place. ~ Revelations 2:3-5

As I sit and write, a rare blue-sky winter afternoon brightens the view outside my window. What a great way to start the New Year! All seems well with the world. And . . . ahead lie new horizons to conquer! As my mind turns towards 2016, I keep thinking about an Oswald Chambers quote, “Keep the main thing the main thing.” We are to always “seek first the kingdom of God.” How? The Revelations passage above steers us in the right direction.

Mature but Passionless

The church of Ephesus did everything right. They persevered, endured hardships for Christ, had not grown weary and hated the practices of the Nicolatians. Their theology and hard work was commendable. They were as steady as a faithful, mature wife of many years. We would relate. We expect the hardships of life and a “deeper, more mature love” to replace passion characteristic of the early years. Yet our “Heavenly Bridegroom” apparently has higher expectations. He chastised the church of Ephesus because they had lost their first love. They were faithful and mature but passionless. Now isn’t that convicting?

Lost Love

Jesus’ complaint echoes similar grievances between spouses who might say things like:

You used to have eyes only for me; now you can’t seem to get your eyes off your cell phone.
You used to listen with rapt attention to all I had to say; now I seem to bore you.
You used to make all kinds of sacrifices in order to spend time together, now all you offer is excuses when I ask you to do something with me.

How important is he to us really?

Don’t Change

It’s said that women go into marriage hoping to change their man, while men go into marriage hoping their bride remains unchanged. Jesus wants our affections and devotion towards him to stay intensely vibrant and alive. And certainly, because he is a perfect bridegroom, he is entitled to this expectation. He does not wane in his love, so why should we?

First Love

If Jesus calls us to return to our first love, what does this mean? Let’s consider what it would look like for a couple to “do the things you did at first”?

Couples in love are affectionate with one another.
They are lavish in their praise and revel in their delight.
They are eager to serve and please the beloved.
When apart, they can’t wait to be together again.
They spend as much time together as possible.
They think about one another continuously.

These are good questions to ask about our relationship with the Lord. How eager are we to spend time with him, to worship, to serve? How much is he on our minds? Jesus doesn’t settle for “parallel lives” or a worn out, wrung out, disillusioned love. How wonderful that he will remain vibrantly alive and passionate in his love for us. Forever!

Eager Obedience

John 14:21b says, “Every man who knows my commandments and obeys them is the man who really loves me . . . ” Returning to our first love means resetting priorities; it’s about being eager to obey his Word; it’s about simply loving our Lord for himself as opposed to being focused on what his power or riches can do for us; it’s about continually rejoicing in all he means to us.

A New Year. A good time to evaluate spiritual priorities.