Have you ever been in love?
It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?
What’s it like when you fall in love?
You know you’re in love when…
You think of that person every single day.
At random moments in the day, that person’s face pops up in your head
You can’t wait to speak to that person on the phone. Maybe you talk for hours, just to hear this person’s voice.
If you receive a letter from that person. You open it with anticipation…then you read it over and over again. When you get to the end of the letter, you’re disappointed, you just wish it would go on.
And if this person writes something giving the slightest indication that they feel the same way about you, it can make your whole day brighten up.
You can’t wait to see this person. The time you spend together seems to go by quickly. Hours go by like minutes. You wish you could be with this person all the time.
Even the quirks–those things about this person you don’t understand—you love anyway. In fact, those things make you love this person more.
And when you have misunderstandings—you work through them. You try to understand each other’s point of view, and you make compromises—meeting in the middle in a way that both sides are satisfied.
Does this sound about right?
Okay, now let me ask you this.
If I were to ask you, do you love Jesus Christ, what you would say?
I think all of us would say…yes, of course I love Him.
I go to church, I pray, I read the Bible. I even do church work.
But let me ask you again. Do you love Him?
Do you think of Him every single day?
At random moments in the day, does His face pop into your head?
Do you look forward all day to that moment of time at night when you can kneel in quietness and meet him in prayer? Do you hear the sound of His voice, so sweet that the birds hush their singing?
How about the love letter that God wrote to you? Do you open it with anticipation? Do you read it over and over again? I’m talking about the Bible of course. And every time that the Bible mentions how much God loves you, does that make your whole day brighten up?
And how about those moments when you are in God’s presence? Family altar time at home. Or church services. Do you feel that the time you spend with God goes by quickly, or do you feel that it just drags on and on?
And what happens when you and God have misunderstandings or disagreements? Do you just throw up your hands, and say, “God is God—he’ll do whatever he wants…i’m just a pawn in his big chess game…”. Or do you get on your knees and spend time to communicate to him. “God, I love you. I want to understand where you’re coming from, even if we have to talk all night. I am not happy with you, but because I love you, and I know you love me, I think we can work things out”.
Think through these questions…and then ask yourself again…do I really love God?
The Bible uses two kinds of love to describe God’s love.
The Bible describes God’s love as the love of a Father. We are God’s children.
The Bible also describes God’s love as the love of a Husband. We, the church, are God’s bride.
And as deep as human love feels to us sometimes…remember one thing—human love is just physical and emotional. But the love we have with God is spiritual. So human love is only a shadow…only a mere approximation of what God’s love is. Because human love is finite, but God’s love is infinite.
I think a lot of us did experience this kind of love when we first came to Christ. I know after I received the Holy Spirit 20 years ago, I made myself a firm commitment. I will pray every day…I will study God’s word inside and out…I will do work for him joyfully…not because I have to…not because anyone’s telling me to…not because I want anything from God in exchange…but only because…I love him
Over the years, things have changed. And so, I realize. I say I love God. But I don’t really.
It’s the same that happened to the church in Ephesus.
Yet, I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the high from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Do you love God?
Does your church love God, like a bride waiting to marry her husband?
Imagine for a second, an engaged couple. Imagine a bride who suddenly feels that spending time with her fiancé was boring and burdensome. Imagine if this bride dreaded having to talk to him on the phone…and felt no joy when she was around him…if she felt this way, should the wedding go on?
Well, as a church…if our worship of God becomes dry and feels burdensome…If we don’t look forward to prayer…If we don’t feel joy when we’re in the presence of God. Then we’re like that bride, and we’re not ready to be married.
I think it’s important for us as a church, and this means each of us individually as members of the church—to remember our first love.
And what this means is each one of us stepping back first and rediscovering his love for you and me.
You see, Jesus Christ is exactly the same as He was when we first committed to him
It’s we who have changed. It’s our lives which have become complicated. It’s we who have wandered away from him.
But the funny thing is…he still loves us anyway…he always has.
He still thinks about us every day
He still can’t wait for the moments that we decide to take time to talk to him
He cherishes the moments that we spend in his presence
So, as a bride, let’s wake up
Let’s remember back to the moment when we first accepted Jesus into our lives.
Start over. Forget what lies behind…forget whatever happened since that day that has separated you from him…If a sin has caused you to be separated from him, repent of that sin and leave it. If TV or Internet or work has separate you from him, cut back on those things and spend some more time with him. And if a person has disappointed you, and caused your faith to fall…remember one thing. Whatever this person said or did—those words and actions came from another human being, not from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is exactly the same as the day you committed yourself to him.
Toss aside everything that has caused you to forget your first love, and let’s prepare for the wedding day that’s written about in Revelation 19:7:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory
For the wedding of the Lamb has come
and His bride has made herself ready
fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear
(fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)
“In the Garden” is one of the nicest love songs ever written.
Now, when we hear the term ‘love song’ we tend to think of songs about physical love…the songs you hear on the radio…”baby, baby, this” and “jiggy, jiggy that”
But those songs aren’t really about love. Or if they are, it’s love on a very superficial level.
But hymns are the greatest love songs, because they’re about a pure, spiritual love–the love that God has for us. The love that all other love is modeled after. Whatever else people call “love”, it’s just a mere shadow of God’s love.
And with this hymn, think about it from a spiritual sense.
It’s about two who love each other meeting in a peaceful, quiet garden in the early morning.
A voice calls to the other.
They walk together
They talk together
They express how deeply they love each other.
Their hearts are filled with such joy, they don’t want to leave.
So the next time you kneel down to pray, don’t just present your laundry list of requests to God. Don’t ramble off platitudes and meaningless repetitions. Instead, plan a trip to the garden, where you can walk, and talk, and be together alone with the One who loves you more than anyone has ever loved you.
I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses,
And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
and the Joy we share
as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing,
I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go;
through the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.