Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Your First Love

Revelation 2
1. "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:
2. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
3. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

My wife asked me if I thought that we had lost our first love (for the Lord). We've been Born Again Christians since 1970. Without hesitation I said No.

I've talked in this blog about The Jesus Movement and written down my thoughts and the words of some songs that I sang from back in the day. I don't know what we would do or would have become if we did not have the Hand of God guiding us, touching our lives and teaching us. However my wife and I have moved on and grown.

The Jesus Movement was a great time to start being a Christian. It was an easy time to start being a Christian because Jesus was popular. We had Jesus jewelry, shirts, recordings. It seemed like a new version of the Bible came out once a month. We had The Living Bible, Good News for Modern Man, The Street Version Bible, The Cotton Patch Gospels, the NASV, the NRSV, the NIV. I can think of at least four songs about Jesus received regular radio air play on top 40 stations. They weren't Christian songs exactly, but they mentioned Jesus. We had new Bible teachers coming out from everywhere and each had their own followers. We had our own bands and popular singers. We had our own radio stations. And we were infant Christians living off the love that we felt for Him and existing on the energy with which His Holy Spirit empowered us. But we were babies. Back then could walk up to someone and start talking about Jesus without being called a lunatic, a rightwing conservative windbag or an infidel. In fact people listened and dialogued with us. (That's Jesus Freak speak for "they conversed with us") We knew very little about God's Word but we were hungry. We would soak up Bible studies and Bible teachings and then go off like little tape recorders and play back every word we heard to other Christians that would share the same teachings. Our hearts were in the right place. Our heads??? Well that was a different story. Speaking for myself, I was not exactly thinking before I engaged my mouth. I was hearing the Word and learning by rote, but I was not savoring the Word. But I was having a great time.

Like I said in a previous post about songs. I have found it not only important to just learn the text, but to learn the history and culture of the writer and determine the big picture. In 1970 Jesus Freak America we imagined Jesus as one of us. He was a tall white guy with a beard wearing sandals and a robe. Just like the artist Richard Hook painted Him. So we all had beards and wore sandals. No robes.

As you grow older, you grow in knowledge and grace. Saving the world is no longer important. You can leave that to God now. He'll do a better job anyway. What is important is your God, your family and your livelihood. But you still want to learn more and more about the One Who loves you. At least that is the way that my wife and I feel.

Matthew 13

3. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed.
4. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
5. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
6. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
7. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
8. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
9. He who has ears, let him hear."

I have seen leaders fall never to rise again. I have seen those that were truly blessed that are now wallowing in the curses that they have heaped upon themselves. I have recognized that we all are human. Some have grown, some have sprouted and planted other seeds, some have been called home as good and faithful servants and some have rejected the Pearl of great price that they were given.

Matthew 22:36-40

36. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
37. Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38. This is the first and greatest commandment.
39. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.'
40. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

As long as you love the Lord and are called to grow and grow, as long as you hang on to what you were first given and do so out of devotion and love, then you have not lost your first love.

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