We are continuing our series in looking at practical ways we can be missional wherever the Lord has called us. Last week we talked about the importance of saying the tough stuff with love. We live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian in it’s way of thinking about things pertaining to life. We need to speak into these difficult areas according to the Gospel but do so in a loving way. This week, we will look at another practical step in being missional: remembering our first love.
As Christians, our first love is and must be God. I think all Christians would agree. The issue is whether or not we are practically living this out and not falling in love with all the other things this world offers. The love of the world basically means loving gifts from the Lord and seeking these gifts rather than loving and seeking the Lord Himself. To be a missionary, we must not fall in love with the world around us.
The Bible repeatedly warns us about the dangers of falling in love with the world. Throughout the Old Testament the Lord continually warns the people not to intermarry with the surrounding cultures and religions lest they led the Israelites astray. Jesus warned his disciples that the world hated him and thus would hate them to. Paul repeatedly spoke about how love with the world was enmity with God, not to be conformed to this world and also to keep ourselves unstained by the world.
So how do we reject what the world offers and remember God, our first love? I believe there are 2 main ways we do this. First, we look away from the world. The world offers us plenty of things to place our identity or find our fulfillment in. Love, family, friends, career, pleasure, comfort, money, fame, social standing, freedom and self-praise are just a few things that the world tells us to seek. While most of these things aren’t bad, (some are even great gifts from the Lord), the world desires to convince us that if we spend our life seeking these things, we will be fulfilled.
Sadly, many Christians have started on mission only to see their mission derailed by seeking after one of these things. A young adult wants to serve overseas but fears they may not find a spouse if they do. A high school student wants to pursue being a pastor but also wants enough money to do as he pleases. A woman desires to dress modestly but loves the praise she gets when she doesn’t.
The temptation to sin by chasing what the world tells us to is all around us. Thus, in order to remain on mission, we need to reject what the world tells us. It means not buying into what mainstream media tells us is “in” or “cool”. We may need to turn off our television or movies if we cannot seem to let go of what the world is selling. It may mean we find a new groups of friends who push us towards God and not towards dating that guy or girl with little to no relationship with the Lord. It may mean we move overseas instead of taking that big promotion.
Whatever worldly temptation you struggle with, (because we are all different and are tempted differently), you must find a way to combat it by first rejecting the lie that it will fulfill your deepest longing. But merely rejecting the temptation is not enough. You must fill that longing with what can truly satisfy and that is our second way to to reject the love of the world; we must look to God.
As we turn from our worldly temptations and desires, we must turn towards God otherwise we will just move on to another worldly temptation and desire. Simply moving from seeking the praise of man to seeking your fulfillment in your family and friends is not an upgrade. If we truly want to reject the love of the world, we must look to God.
Why? Because God is the true source of love and is what our heart is longing for the most. Turning towards God means that we reject the world’s standard of morality or popularity and hold fast to what the Lord tells us is right. Christians, it’s important we understand that we will never be cool. We will never be the most popular and we were never called to be. Instead, our calling is found in our Creator and the mission of proclaiming His Name to the nations that He has set before us.
What worldly loves have you allowed to sneak into your mission? What areas are you feeling tempted to just give up and act like the world around you? Whatever worldly temptation you are facing, God is able to provide a way out. You must reject finding your purpose and identity in the loves the world offers and instead turn your eyes to the true, deep, everlasting love of Jesus Christ. This is what it takes to stay on mission in a world that desperately wants us off mission. Remember Jesus Christ, your first love.