Recently, Jamie and I spent some time with a friend at the beginning of a new romantic relationship. At times it was adorable; other times, it was funny listening to them tie their significant other into almost every conversation. Since most of my friends are either married for a long time or are single, it’s been a while since I’ve had this experience.
“So and so would love this…”
“That reminds me of something so and so said…”
“There’s a bakery…so and so loves bakeries…”
And on and on…In the few hours we were with them, it was clear that our friend was always thinking about their new love and they couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it.
One thing they said stuck with me: “I can’t wait for you guys to meet.”
Oh, the excitement of first love!
A relationship you can’t stop thinking about, talking about, and sharing with others.
A desire to know more about the other person…what they like and dislike.
A desire to please the other person by being who they want you to be.
An overwhelming excitement to introduce everyone you know to your love.
With this clear mental picture in mind, I went home and reread Revelation 2–the letter to the church in Ephesus.
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.
At first glance, this church appears to be in good condition. They were working hard for God and His kingdom, they’d been faithful and endured hardship for the faith, and they rejected false teachers and teachings. However, they lacked one thing: they’d abandoned their first love.
Their passion became more about doing than being with Jesus.
They were giving God service, but not themselves.
They kept their doctrinal purity, but lost their spiritual passion.
While believing all the right things and being faithful in service, they neglected their personal relationship with Jesus.
God calls them out on it and says, “This is a big deal. You need to repent and return to the close personal relationship we had before.”
As I read these words, I started searching my own heart. Because the truth is that it’s so easy to get caught up in serving Jesus, doing ministry, standing for truth and purity in a crazy world, and even enduring hardship, that we start to neglect the basics needed to maintain a personal relationship.
As followers of Christ, we need to be aware of this trap and be careful that we don’t fall into it.
We need to ask ourselves:
Am I spending time with Jesus?
Am I prioritizing doing for Jesus rather than being with Him?
Do I still take time to learn more about Him?
Do we talk? Am I reading His Word? Am I still allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me, lead me, and speak to me?
Am I still passionate about my relationship with Him?
Or have I fallen into the trap of believing that passion for Jesus only belongs to the young or those new to the faith?
As I searched my own heart, I began to pray. I don’t want to lose my first love. I want to walk closer to Jesus with time, not allow the cares of life to come between us.
Like my friend was excited about their next date, I want to be excited about being with Jesus. And I want that excitement to overflow in a desire for everyone I know to know Jesus as I do.
Yet I know it won’t just happen. It will take prioritizing and re-prioritizing and a commitment that remembers that we can say all the right spiritual things and do all the right ministry actions, but if we don’t have love, it is nothing.
Years ago, a contemporary Christian group called Silverwind sang these words:
Take me back to first love
To the place where I once was
Where my passion was just obeying
And prayer was sweet…the sweetest thing I knew
Everything was possible with You
Take me to…the place of my first love with You.
Today and always, may they be our prayer.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry."