A husband and wife are sitting at a stoplight – she’s in the passenger seat leaning against the door; he’s behind the steering wheel. A young couple pulls up next to them. The girl is sitting in the middle, literally squashed against the young man driving and he has his arm around her shoulder pulling her to him so they’re cheek to cheek. They obviously cannot bear to be a foot apart, even while in the car.
The wife looks at them and says longingly, “I remember when we used to sit like that.” The husband thought for a moment, and then responded, “I’m not the one who moved.”
You know who else hasn’t moved? Jesus.
You are as close to Jesus as you want to be.
Jesus said to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2), “You’ve lost your first love.”
Did Jesus run away? Did Jesus take a much needed vacation in Barbados? Maybe He was in the mountains of Colorado for some tubular snowboarding or elk hunting? He could’ve been on the beach in Capetown or on safari near Bulawayo. That’s where I’d be.
Nooooooo. That’s all silly. Jesus didn’t move. The church at Ephesus did. They got caught up in other things, things that diminished their affection for Him. And didn’t do the things that increased their affection for Him. THEY lost their first love, not Jesus.
It’s the same with you and me. We are…get this…as close to Jesus as we want to be. Which is convicting and encouraging at the same time. Convicting because it might mean a) I don’t want to be close to Him, and/or b) there are some things that intentionally or unintentionally I’ve been loving more than Him.
But it’s HUGELY encouraging because it means that the only thing that stands between me being up close and personal with the First and the Last of ALL things, is me. And the cure…is not that hard.
Jesus said, “Do the things you did at first.”
That’s all! So easy.
When a marriage has grown cold the remedy is to do those things you did at first, when you were trying to win each other over. You always acted your best, you put the other person first, you dressed to look good for that guy or that girl. All of those things that were designed to increase affection in the relationship.
Want to draw close to your Creator? The one that oversaw the knitting together of your body in your mother’s womb? Do those things that increase your affection for Him.
It helps me to think of those things in the terms of spiritual disciplines.
Spiritual disciplines increase my affection for Him. Wait…what?!?!? What is a spiritual DISCIPLINE??? That sounds horrible! And somewhat insane! Is that like 50 push ups for an unkind word, 10 lashes across my back for missing church, 50 stomach crunches for laziness? No. None of that.
A spiritual discipline is anything I do that puts me in a position where God can change my heart. And that’s exactly what I want. I want my heart tightly knit with Jesus’.
Want to draw close to Jesus? Practice spiritual disciplines with a “right heart” attitude.
If you do these things with a bad attitude or as empty religious rituals, the result will probably not be what you want. I say “probably” because sometimes the Holy Spirit punches through a bad attitude with His word/prayer/etc even as we’re doing it with a bad attitude. But with a “right heart” attitude, heart change is assured.
a. Reading God’s Word. Every time I read His word, I’m putting myself in a position where He can change my heart and draw me closer to Him.
b. Prayer. Every time I pray, I’m putting myself in a position where He can change my heart and draw me closer to Him. He promises He hears our prayers and responds.
c. Going to church. Every time I join with His body for worship in His local church, I’m putting myself in a position where He can change my heart and draw me closer to Him. It’s His body – when I’m in a church, my physical proximity is that I’m in/with His body.
d. Serving Jesus. Serving Him with my ministry in His church or my mission in the world. Every time I serve Him, I’m putting myself in a position where He can change my heart and draw me closer to Him.
e. Singing songs to Jesus (praise). Every time I praise Him, I’m putting myself in a position where He can change my heart and draw me closer to Him.
And here’s the beauty: in all of those cases, it doesn’t matter if I “feel” like my heart is changing or I’m drawing closer. The truth is, when I engage in that activity with a “right heart” attitude, an attitude of wanting to be closer to Jesus, to love Him more, it’s happening.
I love this! As James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Jesus hasn’t moved, but every one of us has that feeling that Robert Robinson expressed in these words, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.”
But praise God, Jesus calls us back to Himself, saying “do the things you did before.”
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Come Thou Fount – Robert Robinson 1735-1790