“Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5
Throughout the history of God’s people, whether the Old Testament nation of Israel or the New Testament church of Jesus Christ, there has been a tendency to move away from the centrality of God and His agenda. This pattern began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. They disobeyed God and placed their agenda first, which resulted in the shattering of their perfect relationship with God.
Centuries later, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, arrived at Mount Sinai. When Moses went up the mountain, God gave him a message to deliver to His people, saying that if they obeyed Him and kept His covenant, they would be His treasured possession. Moses gathered the elders of Israel, and they all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said” (Exodus 19:8). Though this was sincerely meant, it was not long before they had broken the commandments of God and wandered away from His purpose for them.
The next portion of Israel’s history is characterized by disobedience and idolatry. The book of Judges documents cycles that began when God allowed another nation to oppress Israel because they had turned their backs on Him. They would cry out to God, and God would intervene, raising up a leader to bring them back on track. The Israelites would then worship God, but would soon slide back into idolatrous ways and become oppressed again. After the judges, came the prophets who were constantly calling the Israelites back into real relationship with God and warning them of the consequences of their disobedience.
After Christ’s death and resurrection, the people of God changed from a nation to the church, but they also needed regular reminders to stay on God’s agenda. Nearly all of Paul’s letters, written to the first-generation church, devote time to calling believers back to dependence on God and obedience to Him. The letters of Jesus, penned by John in Revelation to the seven churches of Asia, written a generation later, also include rebukes because the church had lost their initial zeal and moved away from the heart of God.
Over recent years, churches have faced and continue to face similar battles. It does not take long for a movement to become a monument and most revivals do not last longer than a generation. Churches may begin well, but as people and ministries settle into routine, they can slowly move away from God’s agenda. His will is to be our priority, not our own plans and strategies. What gives life and authenticity to the Christian church is a daily realignment of our agendas with God’s agenda, and allowing Him, by the Holy Spirit, to direct our steps.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, the history of Your people is filled with reminders to keep our focus on You. Align our churches today with Your agenda, and thank You for the life and authenticity this brings.