I remember the day that I became a bride. It was the second Saturday of May, more than a few years ago. On that day, I married the man who had stolen my heart; the one who still holds it captive to this day. The moment the doors to the auditorium opened and I saw my groom waiting for me at the end of the aisle, there was nothing I wanted more than to promise my life to that man forever. As I stood in front of him, I recited the beautiful words that Ruth said to Naomi when she refused to leave and return to her own country (Ruth 1:16-17).
I meant what I said on that day, and I still mean it on this day.
I like to think back on our early years of marriage when our love was fresh and new. I recall the excitement over seeing him at the end of the work day; the joy that would come from simply driving through the country next to him in the front seat, with music blaring, and no real destination in mind; crying over burned chicken while he choked it down promising me that it was the best chicken he’d ever had; laughing together while washing dishes; cuddling on the couch and watching movies; holding hands while we worshipped together; just wanting to be close to him…all the time…and really trying every day to find ways to show him how much I loved him.
Fast forward nearly twenty years and our lives are much different now. We have three children and calendars that are jam-packed with activities to keep us busy from sun-up to sun-down. There’s not much time for drives through the country and movies on the couch with just the two of us. Some days our most romantic gesture is a fist bump as we pass in the garage—one of us heading out to a basketball game and the other just coming in from tennis practice pick-up. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is that the busyness that comes with the things we “must-do” can sometimes cause us to forget the passion behind our “I-do.”
I love my husband immeasurably more today than ever before; and I don’t want our relationship to ever become just a series of check-marks on a marital “to-do” list. (Hug the husband today—check! Tell him I love him—check! Cook him the Chicken Divan that he loves—check!). Those are good things, great things even, but I must not forget the self-less, heartfelt, expressive, shout-it-out-from-the-mountain-top, kind of love that I had for him at the beginning of our marriage. I have to be intentional in order to hold on to that kind of love. I have to remember why I fell in love with him and how it happened (if you know me well, you’ve probably heard that story). I have to talk to him and pay attention to him. I have to think of ways to show him how much I love him, just like I did when we were newlyweds.
I say all of that to say this: As Christians, have you and I forgotten our first love? Somewhere, in our sincere efforts to live as the bride of Jesus Christ, have we lost our whole-hearted, unstoppable, and fervent love for Him? I recently read the words in Revelation 2:2-5, where Jesus addressed the church at Ephesus. He said to them,
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say that 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. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”
We must not allow our Christian lives to become a series of check-marks on a spiritual “to-do” list. It’s possible to go through motions—even the right motions—and have forgotten our first love, like the Ephesians did. We have to remember the reason behind our hope and the extraordinary love that brought us salvation. We cannot forget! If we do, or if we have, we should change that! We can repent and revive the love that we had when we first committed our lives to Christ. Please don’t get me wrong; actions are necessary! We have to follow the commands that we’ve been given in the Bible, but the motivation for our obedience should be love.
I suggest we do this: remember why we love Jesus, talk to Him, pay attention to Him, tell everyone the story about how we came to know Him, find ways everyday to show Him how much we love Him. When we confessed the name Jesus and were baptized for the remission of our sins, we became members of His church—His bride—and we entered into a covenant relationship with Him. In the day to day matters of Christian living, we should never, ever forget our first love.