Where's the Love?
Your spouse looks at you and says, “Honey, you’re a good person. Nice. That can make you smile, and even modestly shrug in agreement, as you mentally check off all the good things you do. Running errands, making meals, taking care of chores, working hard, and generally being a decent, pleasant person to live with. Your boss or co-worker calls you in and says, “You’re doing a good job. You’re punctual, honest, pleasant to be around. You put in long hours.
Great, you think, giving yourself a mental pat on the back.
Until your spouse starts singing, “But you’ve lost that loving feeing,” and wants to know where the romance, passion, and can’t-wait-to-see-you fervor went.
Or your boss says, “But you’ve lost your fire. You do the job well enough, but what happened to the creativity and love for the work that you once had?
The hard thing is, when you find yourself in this position, you are most likely doing the best you can. You can go through the motions, but can you rev up the emotion and passion you once had.
Fortunately God has provided a means for that to happen.
Jesus once told a group of believers in Ephesus how much He admired them. How good they were. “I know your works,” He said, “your labor, your patience…you have persevered, and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” Twice He commended their patience, and then recognized their ability to work hard and remain faithful. They were long suffering. They stood for truth and fought evil.
“NEVERTHELESS,” He said, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Oh, that’s gotta take the air out of you. It’s hard enough if your spouse or boss tells you that in spite of all your hard work and good deeds, you’re not quite there, but when God tells you? How do you deal with that? How do you muster up that love when you’re just not feeling it and you’re trying so hard to please Him.
A thoughtful friend of mine wrote in a letter that she came to the Lord “out of a sense of responsibility.” She had considered all the claims of the Bible and the Christian faith, and concluded they were true. She believed God loved her, and that her sins were forgiven through Jesus. So she went about living a godly life, serving God and His people. But she never had a big, emotional moment of falling passionately in love with Him —even though she heard other people talk about it, and wondered what she was missing.
The passage in Revelation where Jesus tells us we have lost our first love is too often taught in an accusing, condemning manner. We are handed yet another thing to add to the list of works at which we are failing. Another overwhelming task that we can’t complete.
But I don’t think this is what Jesus intended! After all, the Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). My friend said in her letter that she finally began to ask her heavenly Father to give her the love He so passionately wants her to experience. She prayed for Him to do for her what she couldn’t do for herself. And He did. “A deep, tear-spilling, grinning feeling of love that never goes away,” she wrote.
First Love Renewed
Jesus gave the believers in Ephesus three steps toward helping them experience that love again
“Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen,” He says. Remember when you first loved the Lord, captured by verses and thoughts and worship that shepherded your soul. You were seated in high places, catching a glimpse of heaven! Even if you didn’t experience a radically emotional conversion, you were convinced of your need for a Savior. You chose to walk with Him for a reason. Then slowly, instead of soaring in the heavens with Him, you find yourself working harder and harder to do the right things. Jesus is asking us to remember why and how much those days changed our lives.
“Repent,” He says next. Which means to turn around. Change directions. If you are being pulled toward a lifestyle or habits that are destructive, disobedient, and keeping you from fellowship and an intimate relationship with your Father in heaven, then stop! Right where you are. And turn around. Run back to Him. He’s waiting with open arms. The prodigal son returned when he remembered what he was missing.
Repeat. “Do the first works,” He says. And what were the first works? Everyone’s story is different. But each of us came to the Lord because we believed. We became a son or daughter, not based on our performance or deeds, but because He loves us and we accepted His offer to become one of His children. We believed and trusted in Him like children trust loving parents. Our first works were not what we did, but what we believed.
Christianity loses its appeal if it is just about performance and works—eventually you will burnout. The Apostle Paul understood: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).
We are not just God’s servants, but His children, His sons and daughters whom He loves with a father’s love. When we grasp that fact, we can return to the love relationship we had with Jesus when we first came to know Him.
If you are like my friend, and perhaps not feeling that deep love, pray for the emotion that God surely wants you to experience. He is a Father rich with emotion and passion for us, and we, being made in His image, are designed to experience the same “joy unspeakable."
Out of time spent in His presence will flow the love and passion that make serving others with joy possible. I pray that you will fall in love again with your Savior and let Him rescue you from a life of tiring lists into a life filled with energy and a passion to follow Him into abundant life.