"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love." Revelation 2:4...."Christ is focused not on the actions that result from love but on the heart behind it....We can do everything right, but if we lack love for Him and others, we are not in His will." Chris Tiegreen....."My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on You." John of the Cross
Back in the late 1990's I bought a video that brought together a group of musicians and singers from the Jesus Movement of the 1960's. It was titled "First Love." These men and women, all middle-aged now, and most having come out of lives trapped in drugs, hopelessness, and darkness, still spoke and sang of the Savior they had come to know all those years before. He was still their first love, and it showed in what they said, and in the songs they sang. Their First Love was still their first love. Is it so for you and me?
So many of us start well with Him. We are filled with zeal for our Lord, and all we do for Him flows out of our love for Him. Then the day to day business of life, family, work, and yes, even ministry, begin to infiltrate our lives and our hearts. He who is best, slowly gives way to that which is good. It's a subtle yet drastic change, and usually, we don't even notice.
The Ephesian church that Christ addressed in Revelation had not gone away from their "mission." They were doing all the right things. They were speaking all the right things. Yet their hearts had grown cold. Duty replaced passion. Ritual replaced joy. Activity replaced peace. Other things, including service and ministry, replaced Jesus. It can happen so easily. Where might it be happening in us, to us, right now?
The primary enemy of the one who ministers for Him is not satan. It's burnout. The enemy will of course leap upon an opportunity to work through that, but it comes about when we drift into the way that John of the Cross speaks of. Our heart ceases to feed upon Him. We continue to do things for Him as we steadily drift away from Him. And an icy coldness lays hold of our heart. We become workers for a "boss" that we don't really know. And our spiritual vitality steadily seeps out of our spirit and heart. Oswald Chambers said that we are to live, "Haunted by God." That is, we are always consciously aware of Him. We are, as Paul wrote, "hidden with Christ" in the Father. When this is our reality, all the onslaughts of the world and the devil against our hearts are futile. The fire within just keeps burning ever brighter.
Where have other loves, interests, concerns, taken us away from the One who does not share love for Himself with anything or anyone else? One person said that the concept of "first love" may well include our total love for Him, and then that love going out from us to others. In that, where has the coldness found a way in? Where have people become instruments of getting to what we want, and to where we want to go? Living for Him, loving Him and others, can become a routine. Carried out with little if any feeling. Leanness enters our souls. If unchecked, it eventually becomes death. We can have, as Christ said, "A reputation for being alive, yet we're dead." Such is the destination of all who drift from their first love...Christ the King. How many of us right now are living on "reputation" and not in the reality of His Presence?
Where is spiritual dryness, dry rot, taking place in you? Where has the focus gone from living with and in Him, to working for Him? Where has God become "boss" and taskmaster, rather than holy and loving Father? Where have we become employees of a Kingdom Employer? Where has He become an "acquaintance" and not the focus of our heart? It can happen so easily. I know. I've been in those places. Where might you be right now? What might the Lord have against you? Where, and how far, have you drifted from your First Love and on to other loves?