Terry R. Baughman
“You have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:4–5).
The way of discipleship is dynamic, constantly changing, developing, sometimes evolving and other times diminishing. Our relationship with Christ is something that is living, growing, and reflecting our current connection with God. We may experience euphoric times of great faith and witness miracles, signs, and wonders. At other times our relationship may seem more mundane, routine, and lacking in passion. Relationships are not static, settled once and for all, without the ebb and flow of emotional and relational changes.
The church of Ephesus had many admirable qualities. They served the Lord with patience, endurance, and consistency. They loved the doctrine and defended the truth, but in their routine of devotion they neglected their relationship. Jesus said they had left their first love. He further commanded them to repent and renew their passion in their spiritual relationship with Him.
“Do the first works,” was Christ’s message to the Ephesians. It is noteworthy that early believers had to be reminded. Why would it be any different for those of us who have served the Lord for many years? Return to the commitments made at the fresh altar of the first sacrifice.
Sometimes our greatest advantage is to revisit the landmarks of our past spiritual experience. Either physically or in vivid memories return to altars of prayer of your early experience where initial commitments were made. See the church house where you pledged your life to God’s service. Recall conversations with mentors and ministers where you confirmed your call or received great insight in kingdom values. Most of all remember the overwhelming love for Jesus and for all members of the human race that you felt in those early days.
The message to us is the same as it was at the beginning of the church. There is no change in the Gospel and neither is there a difference in what it takes to develop in discipleship. John wrote in his second epistle that it is, “… not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another” (2 John 1:5). Love was the foundation of relationship with Jesus and His disciples and that has not changed. Love is still the basis of our connection with Christ as we seek to become His disciples in the twenty-first century. When we feel that we are no longer loving as we should it is time to return to this most basic motivation in our commitment to God.
It will serve us well to come back often to review the basics of Christian service. Micah summarized our responsibility in relationship with God with three basic truths: Practice justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. (See Micah 6:8.) He considered these our duty in our service to God. These basic values are fundamental to discipleship and a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. Are we walking in His steps and modeling His character?
Let’s get back to basics!
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35)