Your First Love

When my wife and I first started dating, everything we did was solely for the other person’s benefit. When I found out that she was a fan of my cologne, I would wear it every time I saw her. I pretty much bathed in it. And she knew I liked to see her in specific colors, so she would intentionally wear that color just for me. I would talk nonstop to my friends and coworkers about her. It got to the point where people started avoiding me because they couldn’t stand to hear my stories about my amazing girlfriend. By the time I finished talking about her, she could walk on water!

It’s incredible how we are the best version of ourselves when we first start dating someone. We spend hours on the phone talking, laughing, and sometimes even sleeping. We devote all our free time to getting to know them. It’s like they’re a puzzle that we’re trying to solve. And in the process of solving this puzzle, we are willing to forgo sleep, eat new foods, abandon our friends, and even wear matching outfits, all in the name of love.

Then we get married, and the puzzle no longer excites us. Now that it’s been solved, our fascination with the details is over. We no longer stay up talking. We eat the same meals every week, and sometimes our friends take precedence over our spouse. We put our relationship on autopilot, and now we’re surprised we end up in the middle of nowhere.

Oddly enough, many of us have this same relationship with Christ. When we first got saved, every word out of our mouths was about the Lord and the things He was doing in our life. We woke up first thing in the morning and jumped into our prayer time, followed by time in The Word. People avoided us like the plague because they couldn’t stomach one more church invite or one more story about what Jesus was doing in your life. Many of us even gave up secular entertainment and replaced it with the Christian version.

Now we can’t even be bothered to spend time with the Lord. We pray for a few minutes a couple of days a week, and the only time we see our Bible app is on Sunday. We no longer testify to what He has done for us, and sometimes, we even question if He has actually done anything for us lately. Our relationships with Him have settled into a predictable routine, and we are suffering without even knowing it.

In Revelation 2, Jesus writes to the church in Ephesus. He acknowledges their perseverance and patience and their value of sound doctrine. This church was credible. During Paul’s ministry, he spoke to the Ephesians, saying, “'I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years, I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.' Acts 20:29-31. The Ephesians heed these words because Jesus commends them on their disregard for those that do evil. However, despite these positive behaviors, the Lord brings attention to the fact that they have left their first love. This love wasn’t lost or misplaced; it was abandoned. Leaving didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow process.

Many of us have left our first love too. We no longer find ourselves gathering with other Christians or telling people about the goodness of God. Our prayer life has become a shell of its former self. Other times we find ourselves reading the newest books from our favorite Christian authors instead of spending time in His  Word. And while there is nothing wrong with reading new books, sometimes we inadvertently replace the Bible with these books. We have unintentionally switched our mindset from working with the Lord to working for Him.
It is hard to maintain the love we experience as newlyweds or as new believers. The excitement, the butterflies, and the roller coaster of emotions we’re never meant to be the endgame. They are an exciting part of the relationship. The goal shouldn’t be to keep that initial feeling, but rather to grow those feeling into something more profound. As we grow in Christ, our love should mature and deepen. Trying to hang on to the initial feelings only keeps us where we started.

Jesus called on the Ephesians to “remember from where you have fallen.” In other words, remember where you used to be in love with Him. Remember the time you spent in His presence. Go back to the place where things got off track. Then He calls us to repent. To turn away from those behaviors or that mindset that have diverted our attention away from Him. Repenting isn’t just saying sorry; instead, it’s a change of heart. Lastly, He says, “Do the first works.” Go back to the basics of your relationship. Go back to making time for Him again like you used to. Spend time in prayer and His word. Find other believers to engage with again.

In any relationship, generally, the “first works” are the ones that are the most impactful. Yet we often forgo these simple tasks for more elaborate ones that may bring instant, but not always lasting, results. He who has an ear let him hear that we are being called back to our first love. We are being called to repent and go back to our first works. Jesus promised that those who overcome would be given restoration and eternal life. What a fantastic reward we have in store for us. Let us finish our race strong and remain faithful to Christ in the process.

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