One of my dearest friends almost always starts a message by asking those present to turn to the person next to them and ask this question, "Where would you be without Jesus?" This question intrigues me because it fuels my intimacy with Christ. Without Jesus, I know the answer for me. I would not be writing this blog. Most likely I would be in jail or dead and in hell. Jesus intervened in my life, and this is why I love Him so much.
You and I deserved to be judged because of our sin. We would have been lost forever, separated from our Creator and assigned to eternal punishment. Yes, we deserved a judge, but God gave us a Savior who died for our sins upon the cross. The cross is Christianity's central focal point.
The cross is God the Father establishing His eternal love story towards fallen humanity. The cross is God's power crushing the forces of darkness. At the cross, our sins have been washed away. We have received a new identity. By His blood we enter into the kingdom of God, transformed. This is the ultimate romance. We are loved, and now we love. Once we have experienced the cross we must share it with others. Because of His love we demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the only hope for our lost world.
Our relationship with Christ is supposed to resemble a very personal love story. I believe that being a follower and disciple of Jesus is like being in a romance novel. In each chapter of the story of our lives, God wants to have intimacy with us. We love because Christ first loved us (1 John 4:19). He initiates and we respond to His love—divine romance.
There is one book in the Bible that stands out as a romantic book. And no, it is not the Song of Solomon (although that is another great book). Rather, it is the book of the Revelation. It is a book about the glorious groom—Jesus Christ, the development of His bride and the conflict and chaos of the last days. It is a picture of Christ's eternal love for His church.
In chapter 1, we see John's vision of the glorious groom who has fire in His eyes for the love of His beloved bride.
Chapter 2 begins with John's home church, Ephesus, in love with their works but not in love with the person of Jesus. Ephesus must have surely loved John, the beloved. How could you not love someone known as "the beloved"? The church would also have loved Timothy as their pastor. No doubt the church even loved Mary, the mother of Jesus. And I'm sure that if they had been asked the question: "Where would you be without Jesus?" tears would have formed in their eyes as they professed their devotion to Christ.
Yet, somewhere along the line, they had left their first love, Jesus. As unbelievable as it may have sounded to them, they had lost the intimacy of being with the groom because of the duty they were performing for the groom.
Chapters 2 and 3 show us a troubled and immature bride. Jesus diagnoses the problem with laser accuracy: "But I have something against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first" (Rev. 2:4).
As the modern church, let me ask a pointed question: Have we left our first love, Jesus Christ? And if so, how can we establish our love for Him?
I see five things that will help us to reestablish our love for Jesus:
- Open your heart to Him first in all things: Only when Christ is the priority in every area will He be the priority in our hearts. Intimacy begins with the heart, so Jesus must be first in order to capture our hearts.
- Ask Him for direction daily: Romance requires two. And probably the most pronounced characteristic of lovers is how well they know each other's voices. Listening to Jesus allows our hearts to be captivated by Him.
- Feed on His Word constantly: The Word of God is a living testimony of the groom's love for His bride. Only as we saturate ourselves in His Word will we be able to grasp His love and kindness towards us.
- Be filled to overflowing with the power of His Spirit: The enemy would love duty to replace devotion in our relationship with Christ. If serving Jesus becomes tiresome and tedious, backsliding is just around the corner. The Spirit keeps our walk with Christ exciting, fresh and dynamic by making God's love real to our hearts.
- Release His love to everyone and everywhere: Intimacy always leads to fruit. The reason is because we want to share what we have experienced. As we share Christ's love with others something remarkable happens—we experience more of it in our lives. As we give it away, He returns it back to us.
Where would you be without Jesus? What a great reminder of the truth that Jesus wants intimacy with His people.
Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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