First love or second place?

 

by Lawngren  

This message is intended for Christians.

If you wanted to give the world a message about how important your faith in Jesus is to you, how would you do it?

We, Christians, are all giving the world that message. Consciously or unconsciously, we tell everyone we meet what is most important to us. That’s critical, because…

“… God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the incredible power belongs to God and not to us.” (2nd Corinthians 4:6-7)

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it … hmmm. Can I get back to you on that?”

No. Our light, dim or bright, shines 24/7, whether or not it’s a credit to our God.

Paul said this about that:

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will be made obvious, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

(1st Corinthians 3:10-15)

Are we spending the treasure of our energy, knowledge, and skills on this life instead of the life to come? What kind of works should we be focussed on? I’m thinking of something different than the usual.

I sincerely believe that unless we focus on God the Father and Jesus, the day will come when we will see all our works burned up, and we will weep bitter tears for the reward that might have been ours, and the loss of the souls we might have influenced toward salvation.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also strip off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily, cleverly, entangles us. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

He gave us the example: “… who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2b)

There are magnificent, royal promises made to those who do this, but for the moment I want to focus on the warning given to those who do not.

To the church in Ephesus, King Jesus sent this message:

I know your works, your hard work and your patient endurance, and how you cannot endure those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:1-3)

That’s an enviable commendation, coming from the High King. But look what else King Jesus said to this diligent church:

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:2-5)

That is a frightening warning. “Remove your lampstand” meant to remove the church. “Repent”? What did the Ephesian church have to repent of? They were busy busy busy fighting evil in the church. Being careful to preserve the doctrines they had been taught, as they had been told to do.

I think the answer lies in two phrases: “abandoned the love you had at first” and “the works you did at first”.

Remember the metaphor of the church as the bride of Christ. As a man, I loathe that metaphor, but it is a figurative description, not a literal one, and it’s very useful in understanding those two phrases.

Remember when you first fell in love with someone? You wanted two things: first, to spend time with that one and enjoy his or her company, second to please that one. You probably neglected responsibilities and other people in the powerful emotional surge of the first days and weeks of love. Probably acted a little goofy too, didn’t you? Uh-huh, we’ve all been there.  😀  

Do we spend time with God? Do we talk to Him often? I don’t mean the “God blesses” or the “gimmies”. I mean, how often do we talk to Him? He loves us. He is pleased when we just spend time with Him! Certainly that’s not all we’re supposed to do, but that word “do” has become a barrier between us and our God. Have I prayed for all my neighbors and the politicians? Have I researched all the political issues of today and advocated my opinion on social media? Have I witnessed enough? Have I contacted my Congressman on every issue important to Christians this month? Have I voted, have I donated, have I … busy busy busy

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:38-42)

Do you ever laugh with God? You’re praying in a conversational style, and something you think of, or something you’re talking to God about, makes you laugh out loud, and you stop and tell God, “That makes me laugh!” It’s fun and it’s spiritually healthy to share a laugh with God! Or just a smile. Does that ever happen to you? It can. It should. We don’t have to “dress formal” when we talk to God, at least not often. Relax! He loves you. He wants to spend time with you.

He wants you to want to spend time with Him.

Do you do things just because you know it will please God? I’m big on reward, myself. A lot of the things I do, I do because I expect to be rewarded for them in Heaven. I’ve been poor in this life. I’d rather not be poor in Heaven too, so I look for chances to earn a Heavenly reward.

But even that attitude changes you. After a while you find yourself feeling gleeful because you just made someone’s day, or some animal’s day or life, and the reward can go hang! You can feel God’s joy at your action or words reverberating in your soul.

Uh-oh, you’re hooked!   🙂

Friends, this world is just temporary. Others said it before I began repeating it: “This life is not your real life.” How well do you know the One Who planned and accomplished at a terrible cost your rescue from the powers of this prevent darkness?

We will be spending eternity with God, and nothing we think or do or say is or has been hidden from Him. Why not start getting acquainted now?

So what do our words, activities, and actions tell the world we love most?

There is a very sneaky self-righteousness among too many Christians that says, “If you’re not fighting to reclaim America for God, you’re not on board with God’s plan and shame on you.”

In other words, “I love my idea of America more than anything else, and God is my assistant in returning America to that ideal. God bless America. C’mon, God, I’m doing my part.”

This nation is not God’s blueprint for eternity. It’s just a tool He set up accomplish certain purposes of His, and it looks very much like America’s time is past. What we are seeing now, as Duckie commented elsewhere, is the winnowing out of false Christians. And there are many genuine Christians who do not know their God, and will be among those whom Paul described as being “saved, but only as through fire.” Because they loved something else more than God. Because they had set up an idol in their heart and convinced themselves that God approved of idol worship by another name.

This is not new. Many Christian Jews got involved in the last Jewish revolt against Rome, a war that lasted from 66 AD to 73 AD and destroyed not only the Temple and much of Israel, but also the Jewish Christian church. The Gentiles had to take the torch.

Anyone on the internet very much sees many blind Christians who have fallen into the trap of thinking that God will resuscitate a national corpse if they just refuse to give up. I have occasionally tried to convince them to change their minds, but Christians in this frame of mind are just as blind as the world. They are likely to end up like the Jews in that last revolt, dividing into factions and actually killing each other while they were at war with Rome. And incidentally not saving their nation.

So for peace of mind and a greater reward in Heaven for your efforts, walk away from them, get to know our God, and fall into step with His will. That will keep us out of unnecessary danger and prevent us from waste our resources on futility.

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