I saw a post from a friend the other day that said something like, “I’m not motivated to drive my numbers up. I’m motivated to get my message out.” This reminded me of something I’ve been rolling around in my heart for several months now.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus said to the loveless church, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:2-4).
I used to think this referred to those who have fallen out of love with Jesus but the older I get, the more life I live, the more I see and know, the more I realize Jesus was talking about losing passion and purpose.
When any of us first got saved and came into a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Savior, we couldn’t wait to share our faith with the lost, gather with other believers, and learn, learn, learn, all we could! But over time, it’s easy to get comfortable and complacent– forgetting what first motivated us.
And as someone in ministry, I can say that there’s a temptation to watch your numbers — how many come to events, how many likes a post gets, how many subscribers and hits our website receives, and so on… These things in and of themselves aren’t evil, but they miss the mark of purpose.
Our purpose in events, posts, websites, etc. is to share the message of faith in Christ with a world that is regularly bombarded with negativity, discouragement, and pain of many kinds. Our purpose should be to preach truth that sets men free, opens hearts to new revelation of faith, and equips others with tools to live out their faith on a daily basis!
But let’s bring this home too. I’m also a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, and the same temptations I mentioned above can plague someone not in ministry. Our attitude can become self-righteous. Our actions can become self-motivated. Our purpose can become about vacations, new homes, promotions, or merely surviving — all while being a lover of Jesus.
My point (and revelation) is that losing our first love isn’t about leaving God. It’s about losing our desire to live daily with His heart for humanity. Do we think of Him first and last each day? And if we do, does it dictate what we do or say in between? And if NOBODY receives us, do we stay motivated to do it all over again tomorrow because we know this life is only temporary and truth is the only thing that will set people free?
I discovered the greatest freedom of my life when I found my identity in Christ and broke free from the bondages of condemnation. This has become my assignment: to help others find the same freedoms. And over time, my passion has grown to include equipping others with any truth from God’s Word that will set them free. But I’ve also discovered that (1) I can get distracted from my purpose, and (2) not everyone wants help. These can be traps and detours that will land me in front of my Savior hearing these words: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Thankfully, His words are full of grace as He adds: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5). The first works are those things in the beginning that compelled me to seek first the kingdom of God in everything.
So whatever that looks like for you, I pray you’ll join me in reflecting on what those first works were and how to return to our first love.