Do you remember your first crush, starting dating or newly married? You may have shared a booth or dinners when out for dinner, you made homemade cards for one another, you sent candy AND flowers. But then for most couples that time slowly comes to an end. The home-made cards became store-bought; sharing food was not that appealing, candy and flowers are two separate gifts, if they are given at all. Something changed once the relationship moved from new, to something normal, common, and expected. Some of the early passion in the relationship may have gone away, or just transformed into something different. As the passion fades, we tend to take the relationship for granted, we stop doing things to remind those we love how special they are, and sometimes forget all together the importance of that relationship is to us. Our relationships become another task or job on our list of things to do. We don’t do it intentionally. Life is busy; there are bills to pay, appointments, jobs, kids, pets, other family, and all sorts of other things that pull at our time.
If we are not careful our faith and relationship with God can easily get caught up in the everyday routine. Think about when we first become a believer and how excited we were about our faith or came home from a retreat or mission trip on a “God high”. I know of some, who read the Bible cover to cover in days, spent hours in prayer, began to volunteer at a food pantry, only for it to continue a little while. Then the normalcy sets in. Their bibles start to collect dust on the shelf, our prayer time becomes three minutes before we fall asleep, and we get a little too busy to volunteer. We find ourselves at church, but not engaged. We pray but we don’t believe it does anything, and quickly we have forgotten our love of God, the reason we began any of this.
We are not the first people to experience this, in Revelation there is a letter to a church in Ephesus that says this from God, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4-5, TNIV) For the church in Ephesus, they had become so focused on “doing church” (meetings, by-laws, administration, the color of the walls) that they had forgotten that all of it should find its source and focus in our love and relationship with God. So what is the instruction to the church? Do what you did at first. At first you did not have committees that fought about the budget, you simply used all that you had to care for the community. At first you did not fight about styles and formats of worship or bulletins, you simply rejoiced at the opportunity to come together and worship God in one voice. At first, church was a place that we came to worship God, encourage one another in our faith, and share the Good News with other.
In the midst of meetings, committees, programs, budgets, paperwork, styles, and preferences have we lost our focus? Is our first love of God still the drive and source of all our life together as Christians? Or is our faith becoming just one more job, one more distraction, and one more thing to do in an already busy schedule. Let us remember our first love – God.