First Love

“‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.’” John 15:9 (NIV)

A friend of mine recommended a book she was sure I’d like. It didn’t seem interesting to me, but on her recommendation, I purchased it. As suspected, I didn’t like it after just a couple of pages. So I passed on reading anymore of it.

But she insisted, “Please give it another chance. I’m sure you’ll love it.”

Because I trusted my friend, I read a chapter. That time something caught my interest. So I continued reading and I started to enjoy the characters. They were quirky and intriguing. The more I read the more I loved it. My friend was right!

I’d judged that book based on my superficial observations, but once I really got to know the story, I was hooked.

Isn’t this the case with many things?

We easily make judgment calls, certain we won’t like something — whether it’s music, a tv show, food or people. Then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because we never really get to know what we judge at the start.

Jesus can be like this, too. We’ve just finished a season of celebrating Jesus’ resurrection, but for some seeing Jeus as a baby is as close as they want to get. Perhaps the grown-up Jesus seems a bit intense or demanding or narrow-minded. So it’s easier to stay at a distance from Him.

But if we keep Jesus at arm’s length, we’ll never get to know Him. And if we don’t get to know Him, we won’t love Him.

If we want to move faith from our heads to our hearts, we must fall in love with Jesus. Only then can we walk with him in faith.

To fall in love with Jesus, we must know Him. Not superficially, but deeply. That kind of knowledge takes time and persistence, just like any good relationship. Jesus invites us to abide in His love — rest, stay, tarry — not rush past it. In John 15:9, He said, “‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.’”

Many of us equate loving Jesus with obedience. Obedience is surely part of showing we love Him; even Jesus said that. But the love Jesus wants is our affections, our emotions, the longing of our hearts. How do we get there?

Early in my faith journey, my faith was intellectual. I knew who Jesus was, believed He was the Son of God who died for my sins and chose to follow Him. I studied the Bible and did my best to make good choices. But there was always a formality about my faith.

Everything changed when I started prayerfully spending more time in the Bible and seeing Jesus as a real person, not just someone to be studied. When I read about Jesus standing by a shamed woman, daring the self-righteous to convict her, I imagined Him doing that for me and loved Him.

When Jesus stood at a well, talking to a woman everyone shunned, I pictured Him talking to me despite the potential rumors and loved Him.

When Jesus stopped and healed a woman who in faith touched His cloak and was healed, I knew He’d stop for me, and I loved Him for that.

When Jesus endured false accusations, was betrayed by His friends, rejected by His own, was beaten, crucified and even experienced His Father’s face turned away so I could be free from the curse of sin, I loved Him more.

If married we deeply love our spouse and children. We love our friends. But the more we know Jesus the more he will become our first love. Then my love for othes will be deeper because it is an overflow of making Jesus my first love.

I could go on and on. There are so many reasons to make Jesus your first love, but here is a truth to embrace: Jesus is real, and He loves us. And for us to experience that love and offer it back, we need to know Him. Really know Him.
And make Him our First Love.