Daily Lent Devotional #21 (3/29/2011)

Revelation 2: 1-5

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. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

The “Revelation Letters” were written by the Apostle John to specific pastors and churches.  They are messages from the resurrected Jesus that also can apply to us today as His followers.  This passage above can easily be misunderstood.  When Jesus asks us to return to God (“our first love”), that does not mean that we are to necessarily abandon all of the other ‘loves” of our lives (whether they are relationships, vocations, or other activities).  If any of those things are sinful in nature or are impairing our ability to stay in a close relationship with God, then….yes, we are to sever ties with those things.

It is important to remember, however; that many of those relationships and activities can also be blessings from God.  Properly understood and utilized, they can remind us of our “1st love” and help us back into the arms of God.  The key is to keep things and relationships in their proper place and perspective.  There are things and relationships that should matter to us; but God should matter most.  There are things and relationships that we can and should love; but we should love God more.

To discuss this idea more, here’s some thoughts from author Henri Nouwen.  May they direct you deeper into the love of God.

The love that came to you in particular, concrete human friendships and that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic.

It does not have to be denied as dangerous and idolatrous. A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such. When human friendships prove to be unlivable because you demand that your friends love you in ways that are beyond human capacity, you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received. When you try to die to that love in order to find God’s love, you are doing something God does not want. The task is not to die to life-giving relationships but to realize that the love you received in them is part of a greater love.

God has given you a beautiful self. There God dwells and loves you with the first love, which precedes all human love. You carry your own beautiful, deeply loved self in your heart. You can and must hold on to the truth of the love you were given and recognize that same love in others who see your goodness and love you.

So stop trying to die to the particular real love you have received. Be grateful for it and see it as what enabled you to open yourself to God’s first love.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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