The psalmist describes the life of the believer as a “delight” in God, as a life that overflows with joy and love (Psalm 43). For most nonbelievers and even many church members, nothing connected with religion is looked upon as a joy – to them it is merely service or obligation, and the thought of passion or delight is never in the mix. If they participate in religion at all, it is either because someone is pressuring them into it or because they have something to gain by doing it.
But those who truly know Jesus understand that delight and faith are inseparably united. Those who love God wholeheartedly find that faith’s “ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her” (Proverbs 3:17-18). God’s children enjoy such joys and overflowing delights that they follow Him even when the world rejects them for doing so.
We do not serve Jesus because we think He will send us to hell if we don’t. Our faith is not a chain around our necks; our confession of faith is not bondage; we’re not driven by duty or weighed down by miserable religious burdens. No, our relationship with God is our pleasure. Our hope in Him is our joy. Our duty is a response of happiness. To delight in His love and to exercise our faith are indivisible.
It is part of your Christian birthright to be in love with Jesus Christ.
Where Has the Love Gone?
The church at Ephesus helps us understand what happens to some believers. Under the superb leadership of Paul and then Timothy, the church in Ephesus grew strong and mature. If there is such a thing as a model church, the church in Ephesus was that. If you read Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, you get an idea of their depth and their love for God in this church (Ephesians 1:15). And yet, about four decades later, the Lord Jesus dictated to the apostle John a letter to the same congregation (Revelation 2:1-5) that included a chilling warning:
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent (v. 5).
Before the warning, Jesus commended much that they were doing – their works, their labor, their patient endurance, how they kept unbelief and false teachers out of the church and labored for His name’s sake without weariness. But one vital ingredient missing negated all of that.
You’ve Left Your First Love
Theirs had been a glorious, spontaneous love for Jesus. And though they remained faithful in their service, their motive had changed. They no longer served from pure love for Jesus. Church work had taken His place.
Only Jesus can provide the love our hearts so desperately need – not a church, not a spiritual person, not a sacrament or a prayer perfectly executed. Good works and ceremonies can no more satisfy your heart’s need than the hot sand of the desert can quench the thirsty traveler.
“First love” is the desire that the Holy Spirit Himself has put inside of you. You are meant to experience an overwhelming, life-transforming love for your Father – without measure, unlimited, and never ceasing! Christianity was never meant to be only head knowledge and orthodoxy. Indeed, Paul warns us that though we “understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2–3).
The supreme goal of our life has to be to fall in love with Jesus and maintain that love throughout our lifetime. And because of His love for us, the Christian journey is no longer a struggle to overcome obstacles. It is a constant invitation to love Him in whatever we are doing.
Ben Cerullo has been named by Charisma Magazine as one of the “30 Emerging Voices” who will lead the church in the next decade. His ministry carries a powerful anointing and prophetic message. Traveling extensively, both domestically and internationally, he has spoken in more than 27 nations. God continues to use him to reach people with the Gospel, confirming His Word with signs following.
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