The real Jesus is full of life and joy, and He loves you extravagantly. In the deep recesses of every heart, Jesus whispers, "Come. Stop trying to fill the hole in your heart with things that cannot satisfy. Drink of My love and find true life." A love relationship with Jesus is the foundation of your very life.
Jesus is the Bridegroom who ravishes His bride, the church, with His love. This same Jesus ravishes you with His love. Jesus wants a full-time bride--not some part-time girlfriend!
To see yourself as part of a bridal party is not about gender but position. He longs to be with you as a bridegroom longs to be with His bride! It is this joyful Jesus who, as a bridegroom, beckons you to follow Him as His beloved bride.
Who is this person who calls you to Himself? It's the festive Jesus who enjoys celebrating a wedding feast; the servant Jesus who prepares a seaside breakfast for His men; the masculine Jesus whom brawny fishermen follow unashamedly. It is the pure Jesus whom hypocritical leaders despise and the joyful Jesus whose infectious smile melts the hearts of the multitudes.
THE JESUS OF MY FIRST LOVE The Jesus I am describing is the Jesus who won my heart when I was much younger. After 20 years of emptiness, which included 12 years of religious schooling, I discovered that true Christianity is not based on religious rules. It is based on a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.
Up to that point in my life I had searched everywhere for peace and purpose. Then someone introduced me to Jesus. Scales lifted from my eyes and I realized that Christianity was not about performance or production--it was about a Person!
I was overwhelmed by the real Jesus of the Bible, and I embraced a relationship with the One who created me and laid down His life for me so that I could experience His abundant life (see John 10:10).
Over time, however, I strayed from my love relationship with Jesus. The tendency after experiencing a true revelation of Him is to replace intimacy with ministry, passion for the Lord of the work with production for the work of the Lord. While Jesus was calling me back to emulating Mary, I was stuck mimicking Martha (see Luke 10:38-42).
I needed to discover Jesus again. I needed to leap off the treadmill of performance and pressure, back into the loving arms of the smiling Shepherd I once knew.
In the closing hours of her life, Eileen Wallis (wife of one of England's premier prophets and church leaders, Arthur Wallis) gave me this counsel: "Enjoy Jesus, Larry. Take time to simply enjoy being with Him."
How about you? Are you enjoying your relationship with Jesus Christ, or have you slipped from sheer delight in Him to drudgery, activity and more and more ministry?
If your hunger to spend time communing with Jesus has decreased, if your experiences of God's faithfulness are limited to stories of the past, or if you continually struggle to win victory over battles that stand in your way, you may need to rediscover Jesus.
REKINDLING YOUR FIRST LOVE Jesus once spoke to a group of believers who had become settled in their relationship with Him: "'I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
'You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love'" (Rev. 2:2-4).
The Christians in Ephesus weren't bad people. They opposed wickedness; they tested all teaching with the truth of God's Word; and they refused to give up under persecution. From outward appearances these people would be considered solid Christians--and they were. Yet, Jesus said, "You have forsaken your first love."
If you can identify with these solid believers, then this Scripture passage gives three simple keys that can help you rekindle your passion for Jesus.
**Remember. Think back to the former days when you enjoyed the sweetness of Jesus' presence and favor.
**Repent. In prayer, confess that you have allowed yourself to stray from your first love. Ask for forgiveness, and choose to turn around and return to Jesus.
**Repeat. Do again those simple things you did to cultivate your relationship with Jesus. Read your Bible and spend consistent quality time with Him in worship, prayer and meditation. Remember He likes you, He longs for you--in spite of your shortcomings and sin.
Respond to Jesus. Be motivated not by guilt and pressure but by His deep-seated, passionate devotion to you! "We love [Him] because He first loved us," John says (1 John 4:19). What a joy it is to rediscover Jesus and be rekindled in bridal affection for Him as the "Lover of our soul."Larry Tomczak is senior pastor of Christ the King Church of Greater Atlanta and executive director of Christ the King School of Ministry. He has authored six books, including Reckless Abandon, published by Charisma House, from which this article is adapted.
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