The Power of Falling In Love: Christ-Centered Christianity
The Power of Falling In Love: Christ-Centered Christianity
I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than to watch someone be genuinely touched by the presence of God. They are swallowed up in Him. Their countenance is light. The tears flow freely. They become lost in His gaze. There is a glorious surrender as the presence and power of God is unleashed upon them in that moment.
And spectators stare, wondering…
You don’t need to wonder any more.
They just encountered their First Love.
Christ never intended for Christianity to become a religion. He died and conquered death so we could know Him intimately, walk in the power of His Spirit, and reveal Him to a lost and dying world. That can only happen in the context of a loving and passionate relationship with Him, where He becomes central to our very lives. When Christ is lost in our Christianity, we become powerless to offer the world what He died to give. But when He is central, we become the bold witnesses He called us to be.
I am prompted by the LORD to write this post for all those who call themselves Christians, yet have somehow lost Christ. Your Christianity isn’t working and you don’t know why. You’re dry. You’re empty. You’re powerless. And you wonder why your faith is failing.
If this describes you, I believe the LORD would invite you to examine your focus.
The First Love Experience
There is something divinely powerful, even magical, about falling in love with someone. This kind of love is what enables “oneness” to occur, and it happens through surrender. When you’re in love with someone your heart is fully surrendered to them. You become vulnerable. It’s the covenant love God created for marriage, and it’s that very love that biblically describes our relationship with Christ. We are His bride and He is our Bridegroom. It’s a love that is stronger than death. It’s a love that is jealous, powerful, and unyielding. It will sacrifice absolutely anything to have the object of its desire: the beloved.
I remember when I first gave my life to Christ. It was radical. I threw myself upon Him and my life has never been the same. I was so ripe for the picking I was about to fall off the proverbial tree. I had been seeking God diligently for several years. By the time I heard the truth I was ready to go full throttle. I had been well primed.
Yet I had no idea who Jesus Christ really was until I encountered Him. Long story short, I fell madly in love…
As a new believer I had an insatiable thirst for God’s word, prayer, and His abiding presence. Jesus Christ was my best friend and He was my favorite pastime. What made it even better was that I had a throng of friends who felt the same way I did. We were so on fire for God that nothing could stop us. We were like a miniature first Church in the book of Acts. We were together in fellowship constantly, praying and breaking bread. The Spirit of God moved powerfully in our lives, and as a result people were saved! We reached people with the Gospel – not because we sought them out – but because they came to us seeking what we had. And all we could offer them was Jesus! Every one of them who ever came to us received salvation and encountered the living Christ. Their lives were changed!
I love being around fresh faith. New Christians exude the passion and love for Jesus Christ that “mature” Christians often lose or lack. I remember being around older more “seasoned” believers as a young Christian and thinking, “Geez. How did you get this way? Nothing about God excites you anymore!” It was horrifying. This troubled me deeply. I couldn’t understand why some of the “strongest” and most “mature” Christians were so dry, dead, and uninterested. Their lives were nominal and powerless. And when I approached them about it, they would laugh, and even warn me that I would become the same way someday.
How You Lose Your First Love
That day came for me. I had lost my first love.
Duty replaced Desire.
Activities replaced Anointing.
People replaced His Presence.
Church replaced Christ.
Theology replaced Truth.
Being busy replaced Becoming.
Ideology replaced Intimacy.
It happened gradually. It happened as I grew and fell into the “business” of Christianity that taught I needed to do more, instead of become more like Him. There were many counterfeits; many doctrines; and many powers-that-be who were nothing more than impostors. In due time I found myself to be much like those I had seen. It made me sick. The fact that I had lost my first love grieved me, and it grieved the heart of God.
The only way to find God is to diligently seek His face with all your heart. Once I awakened to what had happened, I knew what I needed to do. I returned to my first love. I sought God with all my heart, and He restored my soul and my relationship with Him to even greater heights and depths than before.
There is something very precious about first loves. They endure the test of time.
When we offer the world Jesus Christ,
people encounter Him and they are changed.
When we offer the world a brand of Christianity,
people encounter religion and they are chained.
There is a vast difference.
Anyone who encounters Jesus Christ, the living God, falls in love with Him. Those who fall in love with Jesus are those who change the world through their relationship with Him.
When We Lose Christ in Our Christianity
We’ve all seen it – the loveless, lifeless Christian who is religious yet powerless. They go to church, they do their church business, and they engage in their christian activities. Their lives are often an impenetrable bubble, and those who live them cannot often relate to those in the real world. That is not to say that church activities and christian events are wrong or bad. Absolutely not. The point is, the heart of those individuals who are just “busy” are many times completely removed from what moves the heart of Christ. And we wonder how they became that way. We wonder what happened. Did they ever really know Him? Did they ever encounter the one true living God? Did they ever know His presence that would make the mountains quake, and his voice that made men’s hearts melt like wax? Did they ever experience the resurrection power at work within them that raised Christ from the dead?
That is a question worth answering.
When we become dependent upon Christian activities to present Christ to the world, instead of exuding Him in our daily living, we’ve sadly misplaced Him. Becoming Jesus to the world only happens through a loving intimate relationship with Him. That can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone. It’s not at all dependent upon church activities or christian events. The world does not often exist in those arenas. And if we’re going to reach the world, it demands we meet them where they are. That can only happen throughout the course of daily life. A sheltered and incubated church within four walls is not going to reach the world. That is not the power of the Gospel of Christ at work. That is a selfish and even narcissistic Gospel that is powerless. It becomes all about us instead of Christ, the lost, and the world.
If the Church is only powerful in the church –
we’ve lost Jesus Christ.
The Example of Ephesus
When Christ visited the Church of Ephesus (see Revelation 2:1-11), He commended them for holding to the truth and in proving that which was false. These were zealous people who guarded themselves diligently against deception. After all, Ephesus was a pagan city full of witchcraft – some of the most dangerous kinds. The Church there was in a constant state of defense for the Gospel, being surrounded by hordes of evil. In an effort to maintain their purity, they learned how to prove that which was false and hold to the truth. The did not compromise.
Yet in their zealous efforts, which were praiseworthy, their focus shifted and they lost their first love. Christ warned them that He would remove their candlestick if they did not repent. He asked them to remember from where they had fallen and to do that which they had done at the beginning.
So what was it they had done? In the beginning Ephesus was motivated by love for Jesus – not only in seeking the truth – but in spreading the truth.
To embrace truth while abandoning love is equivalent to falsehood.
This church who was so zealous for truth had lost their first love, who is Christ. Truth without love is not pure, and therefore, Christ had to rebuke them and warn them that this is not a Gospel He would allow them to spread, hence the removal of their candlestick.
When we are in love with Christ we are compelled to show Him to the world.
That is where Ephesus missed the mark. They had clearly lost their first love.
Christ does not promote a loveless Gospel. A loveless Gospel is a powerless one. It will not reach people, and it certainly will not save them. God created us for love. That is our number one need, and it’s love that our souls and spirits respond to. When love is absent, truth is powerless to reach people in setting them free – not because truth has changed – but because people’s hearts have. Hearts are only awakened to truth when it’s spoken in love.
Instead of actively spreading the love and truth of Christ, Ephesus was eagerly guarding against falsehood. They maintained a position of defense instead of taking offense for the Gospel. That is not the truth Christ called us to preach. And although their zeal for truth was commended and praiseworthy, Christ was jealous for them to return to their first love in revealing the error of their ways.
Loving Him is the only way to walk in Truth.
His Truth will always compel us to reveal His love to others.
People need to encounter the person of Jesus Christ. They don’t need a sermon. They don’t need a handout. They need to experience Jesus. And if we, as Christians, are not in love with Him, then we lose the spiritual fountain from which His Spirit flows. He is the fountain of living waters. He is the One who pours into us and through us. If those waters are stagnant and our spiritual well is “capped”, then we become ineffective.
When Christ is missing from our Christianity, we are left with nothing to offer the world but religion. When we love Christ and walk in Him, we make Him known on a routine daily basis among those who have never encountered the living God. It happens by default without any effort at all, and our lives become the witness He called us to be simply because we love Him.
There is nothing more liberating than falling in love with Jesus. It will set you free. That love and freedom will be contagious to others who are bound and broken. When they encounter us, they will encounter Christ, and they will have an opportunity to be freed as well.
Love is powerful. It is the greatest commandment. It’s the fulfillment of the law. And it’s all that will remain when everything else has passed away. People are drawn to love. They will seek it out. People will flock to it once they find it.
Christ’s Love will always illuminate the Truth of the Gospel.
And the Truth of the Gospel will always set free.
If you’ve never fallen in love with Jesus Christ, it is possible that you’ve never truly encountered Him. You can pray a prayer today that will change all that:
Lord, I know You love me and died for me. I long to know You and love You. I give You my life, and I ask that You come into me and change me. Your work on the cross was perfect, and You said it is finished. I accept Your sacrifice for me in body, soul and spirit. I choose to repent of my sin. I long to live the life You have purposed and planned just for me. I invite You into my life, LORD. I surrender my heart and life to You, and I thank You for saving me by Your grace. I thank You for Your love. I want to begin a new life with You starting today right now. I want to know You, love You, and serve You all the days of my life. I seek Your face with my whole heart. And I praise You for Your promise that I will find You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you have prayed that prayer, please let me know today by commenting below or dropping me a line on my contact page. I’d love the opportunity to believe with you and pray for you. God bless you!
Cheers & Shalom,