Reclaiming Our First Love

June 4th, 2024

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

When there is a good thing—a treasure—everybody wants in on it. But do you know what happens to treasure? It’s hoarded and a dragon may even begin sleeping around it.

But this good thing—love—cannot be stockpiled or locked away in a maximum security dungeon. It is free by nature.

The original message of the gospels are about love, not about founding heavily codified ways of practicing a religion.

Christomysticism over Churchianity

Like love, God can never be put in a box, and very often this is precisely what occurs in people’s minds when they involve themselves with institutions or culture passed down by one’s family or place of birth.

For deep believers, it is often said that the path of Jesus is not a religion at all, but a personal relationship. Religion itself is said to be a deviation, a seemingly falling short of what Jesus is. Yet with our limited human way, the institutions and biblical translations may be the best we currently have. Institutions do reach certain people, even in a deep fashion, but it won’t reach many.

Churches are often likened to hospitals for the soul and spirit, and this analogy is quite fitting. In my experience as an x-ray technician, I’ve seen that real hospitals don’t always heal; sometimes, due to human error, they can actually worsen conditions. For instance, nosocomial infections are quite common, where patients enter for one issue and end up contracting an infection within the hospital. Similarly, churches may not always provide the soul and spirit healing one needs, and may actually make things worse.

This is because the real church is first to blossom from the inside. The body can be the church. A collection of bodies coming together in prayer can also be the church. We are the direct connection to Christ, and all we need to do is simply reach out to God’s unwavering love with all sincerity even if it takes a great humbling.

Christ Artist over Christ Museum Visitor

Churches can also be likened to museums with clearly defined etiquette for visitors. The visitor typically observes passively, going through the motions and may frequently feel disconnected from the spirit. This all may occur despite the church’s attempt to preserve the spirit via its liturgical art and architecture like a bug trapped in sap and turned into amber.

We can reclaim it all however by becoming the artist of Christ ourselves.

Reclaiming Christ

Not only can Christ be reclaimed, but even the title of “Christian” can. It doesn’t mean straying from scripture but rather fostering a direct relationship with God.

Believers are called to be vessels for the Holy Spirit, but cultural norms and institutional rules can oftentimes get in the way. As stated in Galatians 5:4: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Then Galatians 5:18 says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

In Revelation 2:4, it is written, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

If there is no love for the Lord, one disconnects from the Spirit. If there is no joy, no peace, and other wholesome virtues that come from being a true Christ-follower, the connection is likely weak.

This disconnection can easily occur when actions that were once genuine expressions of devotion (first love) become mere rituals. It is essentially a form of idolatry within the believer, akin to putting the cart before the horse or mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself.

But fortunately, we have the opportunity to reclaim our devotion. Revelation 2:7 says “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

The victory is in reclaiming our first love.