Today I want to talk about the second great test of love, which is endurance. This is what the Lord referred to in His rebuke to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5:
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent.”
The most common understanding of this term “first love” is the passionate love for the Lord that they had in the beginning. Certainly it is rare for any married couple to maintain the fire they had for each other in the beginning of their marriage for more than a year or two. Usually marriages move from the fiery passion they have in the beginning, to a love that continually fades in passion. Most claim that this love is actually deeper and more fulfilling, but is it?
What most consider the fiery passion of love is more physical attraction than emotional, intellectual, or spiritual. Sex is a wonderful gift from God that is intended to strengthen the bond in the marriage relationship, but it is far from being the whole relationship. If the bonding does not go beyond sexual attraction to emotional, intellectual, and spiritual bonding, it will be a tenuous relationship at best.
The same is true of our relationship to the Lord. The initial fire and zeal we had when we first met Him is wonderful, but we must go on to know His heart and His ways. The more we get to know Him and His ways, the more deep confidence and faith we will have in Him. Because the fire and zeal that we have for the Lord in the beginning is not a physical attraction, there is no reason it should diminish. In fact, we should become even more excited as we get to know Him better. There is no thrill in the universe like getting to know the Lord.
There is a phrase some of the great saints of the last few centuries have been fond of using. It is “moving deeper into God.” There have also been movements called “deeper life” movements. Those I know from these movements usually have a rich and deep relationship to the Lord that is special. However, with few exceptions (and there are some), there seems to be an unwritten rule with many of these that the more mature you are spiritually, and the deeper your walk with the Lord, the less emotional you will be about it. I have even been told their love “goes beyond feelings,” which I think is a basic deception. I do not believe any love can go beyond feelings. How would you like for your spouse to say to you, “Darling, I don’t feel anything anymore, but I still love you.”
I realize many immature believers exhibit their emotions or physical manifestations as evidence of their relationship to God. Yet, even the great angelic beings that dwell in the presence of God, and have since before the creation of the world, still tremble, marvel, and seem to constantly be in awe of the unfathomable wonders of God. After millions of years they will still be going to higher and higher levels of ecstasy and glorious wonder as they behold more and more of Him. I am sure we will all be crowding around doing the same thing.
There may be other galaxies, and worlds to behold and learn from, but there will never be anything in creation more wonderful, or inexhaustibly fulfilling, than knowing the depths of God. Stars may fade after a few million years, but the glory of God will never fade. It is not possible to truly get closer to God without getting even more excited about Him. Much of what some refer to as “the deeper life,” may be learning more about God, but anyone who is truly getting closer to Him will grow in their passion for Him as well. It is impossible not to.
If we drift from the passion we first knew, it can only be because we have drifted from Him. Because the church is first and foremost His temple, when we drift from Him, we are no longer abiding in Him, and we will therefore stop manifesting Him. We can still do ministry, and learn deeper things about Him, but the true measure of our spiritual lives will always be by His manifest presence in our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14 Paul talked about how he “…manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” If someone comes into the room that is growing in knowledge, it is not likely to get your attention. However, when someone enters a room, who has been in the presence of the Lord and is getting closer to Him, everyone’s attention will be irresistibly drawn to them. As Paul continued in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11:
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.”
Because Moses had been in the Lord’s presence, he reflected so much glory that he had to put a veil over his face. We are also told here that what we should be experiencing in the New Covenant is supposed to be even better than that! One of the ultimate questions we should be asking is: where is the glory? It is in His presence. When we learn to draw close to Him and dwell in His presence, we will experience something even greater than what Moses did. Moses met with Him face-to-face, but we have Him living in us. Hebrews 12:29 tells us “…our God is a consuming fire.” If we are truly getting closer to Him, the fire in our lives will be growing.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|