Our First Love
Recently, I ran across some incomprehensible statistics. Did you know….
One in nine people in our world go to bed hungry each night (The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015)?
Over 3,000 babies are aborted each day in the United States and approximately 125,000 daily, worldwide (World Health Organization)?
There have been 142 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in December 2012 (The Washington Times)?
There were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes reported by law enforcement in the United States during 2014 (FBI 2014 Crime Stats)?
In addition to violent crimes, daily we hear of countless disputes, contentions, and controversies. The biggest issue in my home state of North Carolina this past week has been over who can use which bathroom. House Bill 2 (HB2), also referred to as the Bathroom Bill, the Anti-LGBT Bill, and the Anti-Transgender and Pro-Discrimination Law, has sparked outrage on both sides. What is considered as a means to protect all our citizens by some is seen by others as blatant discrimination.
Then added to all this foray is our current political climate that leaves a majority of citizens feeling there is no help for our beleaguered country. Have we spiraled out of control? Is there any hope for our nation?
I’m reminded of the city of Ephesus in the New Testament. Ephesus was a prosperous city in Asia Minor. There was a large temple in the center of Ephesus that was dedicated to the goddess Diana. Many people thronged to the busy city and to the temple and there was much immorality and wickedness.
However, the city of Ephesus was also the center of much of Paul’s missionary work. He visited Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey and when he departed, he left Priscilla and Aquila to continue ministry work in the city. Later, Paul spent around three years in Ephesus. He taught Scripture to both Jews and Greeks and the city became a center for evangelistic outreach. In fact, when John penned the letter given to him by Jesus to the church in Ephesus (Revelations 2:1-7), the Ephesian Christians were commended for listening to Paul and not tolerating false teachers. However, they were also reprimanded for leaving their first love, their love for God.
Have I lost my first love? Have you? How do we live in a world that is becoming increasingly wicked? When confronted with false teachers, sometimes even believers who have turned away from the Word of God, what do we do? Perhaps we could take some of Paul’s advice to the Ephesian Christians.
- We belong to God.
Paul reminded the Ephesians: “you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Christ dwells within us, strengthens us, and bestows His love and grace upon us (see Ephesians 3:16-19).
- We should not walk in the ways of the world.
Paul instructed the Ephesians: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened; being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19).
- We should walk in the righteousness of Christ.
Instead of living corruptly, Paul tells the Ephesians “to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). He further told them to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
- We should know our enemy and be prepared.
Paul reminded the Ephesians that the only way they could remain strong was in the Lord. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
Perhaps we could summarize Paul’s advice this way. Know whose we are, live like we are His, and stand strong in Him. When we truly love the Lord and put Him first in our lives, our homes, our work, our worship, in everything we do, it will surely make a difference – not only in our own lives, but also in our world. The battle is the Lord’s, but the choice to join Him in the battle by putting Him first and living like He calls us to live is up to each of us. May we all love the Lord again as we did in the very beginning!