Every relationship needs investment. Sometimes the Christian faith gets distilled down into Sunday attendance and a possible midweek group. If I only turned up for coffee with my wife for two hours a week, it wouldn't be a sufficient foundation upon which to build a marriage. So why do we do the same with our faith?
In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the church about how they were doing.
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
This church was active, working hard and probably successful. In this passage, Jesus is saying along the lines of ‘I love all that you are doing - your worship sounds fantastic, you have lots of ministries going on, people follow your church twitter and your website is the best. BUT - you’ve lost the love.’
The church had lost its love and passion for Jesus. Following the earlier comparison, they liked their marriage but it was a loveless one. We can become so used to a relationship that we stop investing into it, we neglect it. The church was living their religion but not living their relationship.
Christianity isn’t about the religion. It’s about the relationship. Jesus says ‘Do I know you?’ not ‘Did you turn up to church?’
A commitment to any relationship takes investment; commitment to an ‘idea’ just needs you convinced. If we find ourselves in a loveless relationship, how do we rekindle that relationship?
I spotted an article online some time ago by a marriage coach about how to do this in your marriage. The marriage coach talked about four areas to invest in any relationship that needs rekindling.
Looking at this list, I started to realise this is exactly what we need in our relationship with God.
If our relationship with God is only based on one or two encounters a week, we shouldn't be surprised that things are not going well. God wants to surprise us every day by having moments with Him. Often these moments are spontaneous. Recall the story of Samuel (1 Samuel Chapter 3) where God calls out his name three times in the night. God wanted to have an encounter with Samuel, even though Samuel was sleeping.
Be spontaneous with your faith. Have moments where you call out God’s name in prayer and worship. Every moment could be a God moment if we keep ourselves available.
2. KISSING AND INTIMACY
Many of us would struggle to imagine a relationship with God that is as intimate as kissing and sex, but there are many forms of intimacy in a relationship. Sex is about two people becoming one. Worship is about creating intimacy with God, allowing our hearts to become one with His. If you are in an intimate relationship you have to take the time to break the barriers blocking that intimacy. We need to do the same with God. We need to push ourselves to open up to Him.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Songs 1:2
The Greek word Proskuneo
Have you ever made space to explore loving God intimately with your guard down? If you want to revitalise your relationship with God then we have to make time to be intimate. Prayer and worship opens us up to being intimate with God. If we aren't regularly making space for this then our relationship with Him becomes stagnant.
To heal and restore any relationship we have to remember where we first came from. When you are busy and there’s a lot going on, it’s all too easy to talk without listening properly. We’re all guilty of this one from time to time but there is an easy solution: stop for a moment, remove yourself from the distractions and listen – really listen. In the Revelation passage Jesus says the church has forsaken its first love.
The church has forgotten to look back and remember where they have been. In marriage this is taking time to sit together and remember together all they have been through. Old houses, trips together, family days…with each person taking stock of the good times and the bad. This remembrance helps us open up to the joy and love we once had.
Remember what your faith was once like. Tell God about what you have enjoyed and how you felt at that time. In this, be grateful for the good that you have seen with God.
Once-romantic dinners that have turned into TV dinners can indicate that the passion is gone.
We need and must set time to be with God. This partly is about being committed to church each week but it is also about putting in time to be with God on retreat. This means taking some time to be with God in prayer, reading of the Bible and being quiet without distraction. Dating is simply setting a time to get to know someone together with purpose. Daily prayer is exactly the same and so is setting time to go on a silent retreat. When we set out time to spend with God we are telling ourselves as well as God that we want to be with Him, and not just know of him.
Block out some extra time; either daily, weekly or monthly to spend time with God. You might want to get help with this by joining in with a led day retreat. Another option would be to take time to grab a coffee, sit in a quiet corner and imagine Jesus is sat with you. You may say little to each other but being in each other’s presence can be incredibly intimate.