It’s Time to Break Out
2I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. — Revelation 2:2-5
Twice in the past 3 weeks I have stood in a home with heart sick families shrieking in despair at the discovery of a loved one who had ended their life. A young man crumpled in his basement, gun strewn nearby as his body fell lifeless in his final second on earth. An old man, blue and bloated, hanging in the garage of the home he shared with no one, freed in that act of finality from the fears and loneliness that cornered and conquered his rational thought. I was in these situations and many others because a while back I decided to become a chaplain with a local police department. My ministry had become too isolated from the people we are trying to reach and disciple. I don’t want to forget what Jesus called “first love” when He confronted the church in Ephesus.
Christians have a way of crouching in their own culture instead of penetrating the one they live in with the gospel. We find issues to debate internally, and the cause we champion is too often our set of preferences substituted for the glorious gospel. Even our evangelism becomes winning people to our doctrinal persuasion or our denominational loyalty instead of reaching the people next door and on our street who have no direct access to what we know they need. I purposely chose to add this chaplaincy duty so I could stand frequently among those who are without God and without hope in this world. Looking into their eyes, and seeing their blank-faced, numb despair is a reality check every church leader would benefit from. Our job is to get people to Jesus Christ and to get them back to Him in profound life-altering ways every week. People need God desperately and not in drive-through window doses, or disposable diaper convenience. We need to be taken and shaken by the God who made us and forced to look up into the eternity racing upon us this moment. Deep within we long for the Father of all galaxies to fall on us weekly and take us to the mat with His full weight. Is that happening in your church? When was the last time you were gripped by the greatness of God? How alive is that “first love” for Christ? —James MacDonald
· What are the actions, habits, and faithful practices in my life that express my first love for Christ?
· Where do I find yourself slipping?
Prayer – Almighty Father, I want to pray for my church and myself today, that we would be alert to opportunities to express Your love to people around us who don’t know You. Show me those opportunities You have placed before me to learn to love You better as I let You love others through me. Help me remember I don’t have to generate the love—it always comes from You. Guide me as I live out that truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.