“You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
When I was 7 my parents took us to visit our grandparents for Christmas who lived in Hamilton, Ontario. Rather than drive, my parents decided that we should fly. This was my first trip on an airplane and I was thrilled. I remember quizzing my dad about every airplane we saw as we pulled up to the airport. I remember arguing with siblings about who was going to sit next to the window. At 7 years old this was the most exciting thing I’d ever experienced and it birthed in me a love of airplanes.
For many years afterwards I would dream of someday learning to fly and maybe even growing up to be a pilot. I began reading everything I could get my hands on about airplanes and flying. My dad bought me a book about military airplanes around the world and I poured over it, memorizing the silhouettes of every plan inside and imaging one day flying some of them. For Christmas I was given a model of a CF-18 hornet and that model hung above my bed for years, fuelling my desire to fly.
Somewhere along the way though, flying costs its lustre. Next week I’ll board a plan for my 6th round trip flight this year. The idea of catching a flight used to thrilled me, now I’m dreading the flight, the connection in Toronto and the red eye flight that follows. I used to pour over the enRoute magazine, fascinated by the pages that identified the different planes in AirCanada or WestJet’s fleet, but no longer. No longer does the sight of a plane catch my attention, no longer does catching a glimpse inside the cockpit thrill me. Flying has become common place, its nothing special, just something I have to do. My love of flying has faded.
Sometimes faith can be like this, can’t it? When we first believed or when we first experienced the filling of Holy Spirit it was exciting and its all we could think and talk about. Then something happened and those intense feelings faded. What started out as uncommon faith became common place, like catching a flight to someplace, just something we have to do. Have you experienced this?
Sometimes the busy-ness and pressures of life can collaborate to keep us from thinking about and pursuing Jesus the way we did at first. Sometimes the routine-ness of faith can cause us to become numb and the love we felt fades. We feel a whisper calling us back, a gentle nudging that something needs to change, but we ignore it because there’s another voice that’s louder, there’s something else pulling us away from experiencing something deeper with Jesus. “I’ll do it tomorrow” we say, but the tomorrows begin to accumulate until we wake up one day and find ourselves asking, “what’s happened to me?” I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another.
Along time ago there was an entire church that was filled with people whose faith had become common place. They were people who were deeply devoted to God. People who didn’t tolerate evil or sin. People who had a strong theology. They had even suffered persecution and hardship in the name of Jesus without giving up their faith, but their faith had become common place. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus spoke to this church saying, “I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other the as you did at first!”
We aren’t the first to wake up one morning and realize that our faith has become common place and our first love has faded or is even lost. The goodness for the church that Jesus speaks to in Revelation 2 and for us is that Jesus invites us rediscover our first love, we may have turned away from him for a while, but he hasn’t turned away from us. Jesus invites us to turn back to him. In Revelation 2, Jesus says, “Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”
Is your faith common place, just something you do, or do you have an uncommon faith? Are you still filled with wonder and are you overwhelmed with gratitude when you think about Jesus? Or has your first love faded? The good news is you can rediscover your first love. It will take work and commitment, but the great news is that Holy Spirit will help you as you do. Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” As you turn to Jesus and begin to do the works you did at first, the Spirit multiplies your efforts and that first love can return.
If you are feeling like your faith in Jesus has become common-place and you want to rediscover your first love, let me give you three things you can do today:
- Read — The most catalytic thing you can do to grow in your faith, whether you’ve been following Jesus for a short time or a long time, is to read the words of God. In my early 30’s I felt like my love for Jesus was fading. So I decided to get to know him better. I began reading the Gospels and just the Gospels. Everyday for a year I just kept reading the Gospels, again and again. The wonder and the amazement of who Jesus is, what he said, and what he did returned to me. Cultivate your love for Jesus by reading his words.
- Community — In Revelation 2:4 that Jesus’ criticism of the church in Ephesus was that they didn’t love him “or each other” the way they first did. Rediscovering your first love requires the loving others as well as Jesus. There’s an axiom I taught as a youth pastor, its that “your friends help determine your future.” The people you surround yourself with will influence who you become. If you want to rediscover your fist love then surround yourself with people who love Jesus. Join a group or ask someone you respect to help you rediscover your first love. Get out of bed on Sunday and gather with the rest of the church. Surround yourself with people who love Jesus and who inspire you to love Jesus and you’ll rediscover your first love.
- Worship — In computer programming there’s an axiom, “garbage in, garbage out.” Philippians 4:8-9 says that we need to fix our minds on things that are true, honourable, right, pure and holy and the result will be that the peace of God will fill us, your first love will begin to return. Worship music is a great way to change the thoughts in your mind and focus on what is true and pure and holy. I have a playlist of the songs we sing at Living Hope and I listen to it when I work out, when I’m writing (like right now), and when I’m driving in the car. Each day I cultivate my first love by filling my mind with music and words that honour him. (Need something to listen to, check out the play list: iTunes or Spotify)
Like any relationship it takes work to cultivate your first love. Don’t settle for common, everyday, plain old faith that you just do. Cultivate your first love and rediscover the uncommon faith that captured your heart when you first believed, it is every bit as amazing and exciting as it was back then, and there is much more for you to discover.
Source: Kirk’s Blog