By Larry Kreider
One day last week I was standing at a salad bar, staring at brown-edged, limp lettuce. Although presented in a lovely crystal bowl on ice, the leftover lettuce could not be camouflaged. It was a disappointing sight. You know, it’s just as hard to fake a leftover relationship with the Lord!
In order to live in basic Christian community, we must stay at the feet of Jesus for constant filling. Healthy cells are led by spiritually healthy believers who have a fresh, appealing relationship with Jesus Christ.
D. L. Moody, a well known evangelist from a century ago, once said that he needs to be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit because he leaks. The fact is, we all leak! New wineskins (small groups) need to be filled with believers who are brimming with the new wine of His Spirit every day, giving us a fresh passion for Jesus. Only then can we really stay fresh spiritually to fulfill the call of God on our lives, small groups, church and generation.
So What is a Fresh Relationship with Jesus?
The Bible tells us in Revelation 2:2-5: “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. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first….”
These believers were doing many things right. They worked hard, they were patient, they hated sin and they used the Word of God to test man’s faithfulness. On the surface, they appeared to be model believers. Yet the Lord held one thing against them. They no longer loved Him as they had when they first came to know Him. They had lost their freshness.
Years ago, a team of Chinese pastors visited the United States. After attending many influential churches, they were asked to communicate what they observed. They simply responded, “It is amazing what the American church can do without God!”
The Lord gives us three simple instructions for returning to our first love for Him:
- Remember the height from which you have fallen.
- Do the things you did at first.
Unless we know how far we have fallen in our love relationship with Jesus, we will not see our need to change. The Lord requires honesty and vulnerability.
Do you remember what it was like to be a new Christian? We prayed simple prayers of faith and loved reading the Word. We knew we could do nothing without Him. When we prayed to receive Christ and be filled with His Spirit, we took Him at His Word. The Lord honored our simple faith, and He yearns for us to return to it!
In order to keep our marriage fresh, my wife LaVerne and I discovered that we must continue to do the things we did when we first fell in love. We’ll take the next few days away from phones and the busyness of life to just spend time together. Good marriages do not just happen. It requires that we have quality time together to continue to build an intimate relationship. To build intimacy with Jesus, we must spend time alone with Him.
How about You?
Do you love Jesus as much as you did when you first came to know Him? Do you feel your relationship with the Lord is fresh, or do you focus on leftover spiritual experiences that are now brown-edged and limp? Rekindle your intimacy with God today and every day. He is patiently waiting to spend time with you as He did in the early days of your new life in Christ. Don’t forsake your first love!
About Larry Kreider
Larry has spent the past four decades training leaders to make disciples with the small group concept. Larry serves as the international director of DOVE International, a worldwide network of over 1,000 churches in 26 nations. Larry has written more than 40 books and travels extensively teaching and imparting practical discipleship to leaders globally. Read about Larry or catch up on Larry’s blog.