Sunday, March 23, 2014
Graber Offices and a Luncheon Table
Sunday Afternoon Thoughts
How do you suppose it happened that the church at Ephesus lost its first love while working hard, being patience, eschewing immorality, and being noted for successfully smoking out false teachers? This church had its act together. They were steadfast and dependable laborers. What was it they had lost?
What is first love? Frankly, I think it is those very first feelings of peace and joy I experienced when I realized just how much of a lost sheep I was, wandering in the wilderness, found by the Shepherd. Comparisons are huge: I was lost, now I am found. I was blinded by fear and sin, now I can see. I was hungry for all kinds of things, now I am fed. I was helpless, now I am carried. I was dirty and sinful, now I am clean (white as snow). I was a miserable failure, now I am perfect in Him. And most of all He actually can change me from that ugliness and lostness to this accepted home comer for ever. Its an awareness of constant need, of humility remembering what a waste I used to be, and a new found alertness to danger and pitfalls.
But time has a way of dimming the memories and dulling the senses to what used to be and we get used to this newness. We move into the plateau and get good at the new walk and begin to enjoy the blessing. We strengthen our muscles in the new good works. All good.
Until we start to feel pretty good about ourselves and our works. We somehow manage to look down our noses at immoral people and false teachers, and boy, do we know how to level them, and hold our skirts away as we walk by. We create boundaries and barriers to keep them away and we think we are going to somehow get "shut" of such vileness and stay that way.
I'll just speak for myself. When I got carried away by my own cultural blessings and biblical lifestyle, so certain that I was not going to make glaring mistakes with me and mine, I had completely lost my first love. What a shock! Looking back I think I hardly remember a time when I had such a good look at my desperate-ness as I did then.
Facing the facts of my lostness without the shed blood, forgiveness, and grace of Jesus was eye-opening, to say it mildly. All the good parenting, good habits, and great Christian living was not going to cut it for me or our children. I aimed at perfection and got ordinary fail prone children and a failing grade personally.
I discovered that I had to accept my lostness to understand my found-ness in Christ. It is ONLY His shed blood, forgiveness and grace that gets me "in". Any perfection/justification is what He sees. He forgave me and I am learning as I go along how MUCH it was/is, and then I live in the room of victory. I discovered that forgiveness is integral to victory. Children who do not feel forgiven have a hard time finding victory. ALL of us children are that way.
So staying in first love keeps us where we belong. We are teachable, humble, and alert. Besides, it gives us a chance to care about lost souls the way we should. Suddenly the immoral and the false need finding and loving, just like we did. They do not seem nearly as hopeless as we used to think they were. If I can be saved; then so can they!
First love found-ness. That's where I hope to stay.