Follow Me: Learning to Love All Over Again

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Learning to Love All Over Again

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MP3 Audio (13.1 MB)


Follow Me: Learning to Love All Over Again

MP3 Audio (13.1 MB)

Back in the mid-1960s the Righteous Brothers sang a song titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” the lyrics begging that the loving feeling would return. Probably many of you, either back then or more recently listening to golden oldies stations, have had spontaneous sing-along moments to the mournful “gone, gone, gone, woah” that ends the chorus.

The Bible speaks of another love seemingly on the wane—in the words of the ascended Jesus Christ addressed to His followers at Ephesus late in the first century. He’s concerned that they’ve lost their “first love” (Revelation 2:4). He’s sensed they have lost their yearning for responding to His invitation of “Follow Me” given so long before.

Apparently the very real storms of life had taken their toll over the years. Most of the original apostles were dead, dear friends had departed the faith, the Roman emperor Domitian was persecuting them, and Jesus had not returned. Zeal and enthusiasm were naturally affected.

They had made the spiritual tactical error of basing their life’s actions and thus crafting their spiritual bank account on external events rather than their internal heart-centered relationship with God.

Sound familiar? Christ’s words are not simply a message in a bottle washed up on our 21st-century shoreline. For it’s an ageless challenge for Spirit-led human beings to maintain that vital spark of first love.

Christ knows exactly where we are

Perhaps right now you feel so alone and wonder why your Christian walk has seemingly come to a halt. Maybe you feel deflated.

But Christ doesn’t leave us with a mournful “gone, gone, gone, whoa.” He presents a different tune, and He wants you to as well. Revelation 2:1 reminds us that He “holds the seven stars in His right hand” as He “walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”—referring symbolically to His presence and care in the midst of His Church.

It’s a heavenly amplification of Jesus’ earlier words during His earthly ministry in which He stated, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39).

He knows exactly where we are and exactly what spiritual condition we are in and how to help us grow in a loving relationship with God the Father and Himself—not based on mere feelings, but specific actions empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It’s a part of the Christian experience to fall in love again and again with the same God and come to know Him more intimately than ever before.

What is “first love”?

So what is “first love,” spiritually speaking? It’s the excitement of our minds and hearts opening up and being led by God’s Spirit—book by book, story by story, truth by truth.

It’s the excitement and passion experienced upon realizing what God the Father has done for us in Christ that we did not deserve and could never earn by our own human merits.

It’s embracing His revelation formerly blocked by deception or tradition or personal suspicion.

It’s realizing our need for God and our need to follow Him wherever He might lead—and becoming committed to that.

It’s more than fleeting infatuation, because God plainly requests and expects our all—for He’s given His all, and His Son told us right up front to “count the cost” before engaging (Luke 14:26-27).

Beyond that, it’s the joy in coming to understand the fullness of the gospel—that God not only sent His Son a first time, but that Jesus Christ is coming back to rescue humanity from itself (Matthew 24:21-22) and to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth (Isaiah 2:1-4).

It’s possessing faith in God as a sure partner, trusting that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6) and that He will fulfill His purposes (Isaiah 46:10).

It’s a sense of well-being in what He is to us—a Shepherd in whom we shall not lack (Psalm 23:1) with a plan “to bring many children into glory” (Hebrews 2:10, New Living Translation).

Three steps to regaining it

But now, Christ doesn’t bemoan the matter of His people’s current spiritual state (“gone, gone, gone, woah”) but offers three specific steps requiring our personal introspection and action to regain how we felt in our “spiritual youth” as a basis towards a maturing and lasting love.

These steps are revealed in the exhortation of Revelation 2:5:

“[1] Remember therefore from where you have fallen, [2] repent and [3] do the first works.” Let’s consider these three steps and put them into play.

1. Remember.

One of the worst human habits is to forget to remember! We all do it. We can so easily get stuck in a self-made room of solitary confinement, lamenting, “Nothing could be worse, and I feel so alone.”

God redirects our thoughts in Hebrews 10:32, saying, “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated . . .”

God is telling us: Go back—think! Remember where we started together. Remember when life seemed purposeless. And then I knocked on the door of your heart. You opened your life to Me, and I said I would be your God, and you would be My child (Revelation 21:7). I said I would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). And I’m still here. I’m waiting. I Always will. Please remember—I love you!

2. Repent.

This means to change—by turning around and going the opposite way from our corrupt human nature and desires. Again, “remember” where and when the invitation of “Follow Me” first found you and how zealous you were in needing to repent in so many ways.

It was more than turning our spiritual man inside out like the proverbial pair of socks. It was becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). But with life coming at us, perhaps we’ve settled for a “spiritual status quo,” thinking we know all the ropes—just doing the minimal, not building on God’s deposit.

Let me be clear—Scripture always speaks to the seasons of our spiritual journey: Initial revelation, repentance, return, revival, renewal, restoration and, ultimately, resurrection!

Each season has a reason and a purpose to help us comprehend God’s great love, patience and incredible reach into our lives—and for us to continually surrender those portions of our lives yet opposed to Him.

If your love affair with God has waned then it’s not on His end, but yours. Beginning today, ask Him sincerely: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast [committed] spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalm 51:10; Psalm 51:12).

God wants you to be close to Him again.

3. Do the first works.

The bottom line is that love isn’t a feeling. Instead it is deliberate action taken by us toward God and toward others. God’s love in us by its nature is outward, out-flowing, away from immediate self-interest. It “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Yet in loving outwardly we ourselves are also blessed.

God’s ways are not theory, but the keys to life. There’s an old Asian proverb that states, “I see and I forget, I hear and I remember, but I do and I understand.”

Isn’t that what God implores us to consider in James 1:22—“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only . . .”?

Life is in the doing! What’s holding you back from your love affair with God? Are you afraid, bewildered, confused? Any spiritual recovery towards regaining our “first love” lies on the other side of the panic that “you feel.”

Christ knew well that the road of good intentions down here would be pockmarked with feelings when He extended the invitation of “Follow Me.” His invitation still stands!


  • mnewbe

    Hi, thank you for this arrival! I have been struggling with my first love, as I was out of church for about 10 years and returned. I am older with health issues. I was 26 when God first called me and I can remember clearly my first love. I am just wondering how to recognize it now. I have been through different things and am a different person as a result of these things, but I do love God and just thinking maybe my regaling first love is a little more mature?

  • Lena VanAusdle

    Hi Marsha,
    I think you're correct... just like a marriage, our love for God grows and matures, and gets deeper; rather than just a flush of emotion. The key is holding on to the commitment and love you have for Him over the long term. We're glad that you've returned to your first love!

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Marsha, May I share with you a story? When I was first called I was excited and followed that call because I had never read God's Word and found it captivating! But it took me about 2 full years of seasons of keeping God's Holy Days before I realized what they meant and that I now must follow through. Growth comes in spurts, both physical and spiritual. We can and should grow until God ends our physical life. I like to say the process is: Called, Chosen, and then Endure to the end. I think you are on the same road as I am.

  • erindenny

    thank you for this article. It's really helping me get back onto the path.

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