I'm doing a personal Bible Study on the books of Hebrews, James, 1 2 3 John, and Revelation. And I read Revelations 2:2-5 which says,
know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot
tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and
are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you[b] and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
As I'm learning about the first few chapters in the book of Revelation, I am taught that the writer of Revelation is listing churches and identifying their strengths and weaknesses as told by Jesus in, well, a revelation. And so I listed these too, in a chart, I only read about 4 churches at the moment, but it helped me to capture a thought I felt compelled to write about.
In the game Diablo III, there is a character named Tyrael who says, "The longer you spend fighting evil, the more you are corrupted by it." How I know about this game and this character at the moment is irrelevant, but this toon made a point that stuck with me and I believe Scripture confirmed it.
It's not that you ever give up and say, "Evil wins! It's whatever!" But that you can get so lost in the fight you lose the love you had in the first place. I think this warning to the church in Ephesus was a real warning to me too.
In essence, paraphrase mine, Jesus was saying, "You're working really hard! I see you at church and doing godly things. I see you stand up for what is right, and argue unapologetically to defend My Name. I see that you don't give up or back down from what you believe no matter what the consequence is. But I do hold this against you; you have forgotten to love Me! In all your right living, you have made it all about the fight and you forgot it's about the love. My love. You need to make our relationship, our love for each other and for those around us, the priority of your life again. Or you will become someone who has nothing to do with Me, and I won't know you in the last day."
I'm pretty sure I've read this before but it didn't click like today.
I'm a very hard-headed political person. I have strong opinions on right and wrong. I'm very argumentative. And I probably have a lot of bitterness and anger deep inside me that makes me want to fight. I want to argue with the whole world - and yet, I hate physical confrontations. So much so that thinking about a fall-out face to face with someone makes me nauseous. But very easily, with politics, local news, and world news, I get more and more into the fight of it all and I forget my first love.
I'm very angry with our President and most of his current decisions. I want to physically yell at him, to his face. This is honest me. And I was humbled today when my daughter, during prayer time, started praying for him. Now I know we're supposed to pray for our leaders - the Bible says so, and I have taught so to my children. In all honesty though, I was beyond praying for the man and more willing to gather pitchforks and storm the White House demanding his impeachment.
I never assume to be right or wrong in anything I've blogged about. I'm just being as transparent as possible.
And here comes my 6 year old daughter, during prayer time, and she prays for him with the most respect she can muster, and with all the love she knows she's asking God to give him wisdom and keep him safe so he in turn can keep us safe. She said that God alone can touch his heart and help him change his mind if he's making a wrong choice.
I am all about the fight. But my daughter has not forgotten her first love, and the supremacy in the love of Christ, and the power therein.
So I'm encouraging you to remember that it's not about doing the right things, or taking the right stance all the time, but about being in love. For me it means being in love with God and finding that one-on-one time before I face the rest of my day - so I'll probably wake up earlier from now on. We shall see.
It has huge implications for my children, who are with me a LOT. And who observe more than what I pencil down to teach them as I prepare the lesson plans for the week. As we scale back on result-driven school work we are focusing more on attitude. My kids see my attitude as I'm browsing through Facebook or talking to my husband. I need to teach them a Bible-centered attitude towards life so they can tackle everything appropriately. I need to model the right attitude in all circumstances first, even if that means I do a whole yoga session before I open my mouth on the subject.
I'm not ever going to agree with everyone. And I've always said that people are very, VERY hard for me to love. But I would hate my kids to see this attitude and think that I will only love them if they see eye to eye with me and I would never really love them for who they are. I know the answer to this problem: to soak up God's love, like a sponge. If I just spend enough time loving God and letting Him express His love for me, then when I'm wrung out or stressed or pushed, what will pour out of me will be love - and it would be as natural as water from a sponge. This was the main point of 1 John.
Most Theologians believe that John who wrote the gospel and was the "disciple that Jesus loved", also wrote 1, 2, and 3 John later on, and finally wrote the book of Revelation when he was exiled to Patmos. And his unique perspective on Christ as God, coming down to earth to love on us really set him apart from other writers - his style of writing is pretty simple and warm. I concur with these theologians because the books with his name on it are just full of John's love for God and it works like... a finger print. And it makes total sense that this man wrote these documents in this order; first he experienced Christ and felt His love. Then he writes 3 epistles to instruct other Christians on the love of God and the love for others. And finally, in a grand culmination, Jesus shows John the end of it all - the final throw down, so to speak. So I see, as God is the primary Author of the Bible, how intentional God is - with all the theology and history, and do's and don'ts, and instructions (all of which are important), God uses John to remind all believers, "Wait! In all this, don't forget your first love! Don't get lost in the work and lose the love! I am love! And it all starts and ends in Me!"
Lord, help me to be less about the fight in this life and more about the love You have for all of us.