I don’t think that a day goes by that I’m not reminded of The Lord’s rebuke of the Church at Ephesus, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen…“
Matthew shares Jesus words of warning, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
I used to think that this meant that the influence of the world’s evil on me as a person would cause me to wander away from the love of Christ — drawn away from Him by the temptations of this present evil age. More and more I am seeing that is not the problem, as “the things of earth really have grown dim in the light of His glory and grace.” The problem is that we are saved out of this present darkness, and we bring so much of that darkness with us into God’s house. The moral givens of our own day have fallen to such a low place, that we are increasingly surrounded by saints who exhibit character flaws. Paul lists some of them for Timothy: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power…” People with these flaws are not so easy to love. (Even though that’s what many of us were, in the day Jesus said “I love you” from the tree.)
When the saints treat each other this way, the love of most is bound to grow cold. I have come to understand the Lord’s encouragement to, “stand firm” as standing in His Love. My love is worthless, but because “God is Love,” His love is all powerful.
In Song of Songs, Chapter 4 verse 12, The Lord says of His Bride, “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” This is what happens to us when we have “left our first love.” All the beauty of the garden is still there, all the gifting, all the qualities of godly character, but they are no longer available, because we have locked them away from others for lack of love. The Lord’s remedy is to send the “north wind” (vs.16), which speaks to us of death, even the death of our own woundedness, “wounds that have been received in the house of our friends”, and then the “south wind”, which speaks to us of new life, even resurrection life.
More and more I find myself praying for the passion of God’s love. With this kind of passion in our own hearts, we can do anything.
By Jay Ferris