Most of my early Christian life was spent trying to please God by what I did or didn’t do. Christianity was about keeping the rules, but this mindset falls so short of the life of faith we have been given. God isn’t measuring us based on who is the best rule-keeper. In fact, there was a church rebuked in chapter two of the book of Revelation. They worked hard for God, produced many works, stood against evil, and dedicated their lives to keeping everything in biblical order. Yet they still fell short. They had the religious side worked out to the nth degree, but they missed the foundation of the Christian life. The Bible pointed out their flaw – they left their primary purpose – their first love.

They forgot that God is love, and the primary purpose of the church is to reveal the love of God. Works founded upon love creates ministry which draws others to the heart of God. That is why the sinners who were repelled from religion were drawn to Jesus. Without condemnation, many drunkards, prostitutes, thieves, and outcasts of religion were transformed into saints. Love met them where they were, invited them into fellowship with God, and then God’s love transformed them out of their old ways. What the wagging finger of condemnation could not do, love could.

The challenge each person faces is not allowing their focus to shift from a foundation of love to a foundation of requirements. Once that first love is lost, a condemning spirit seeps in, and the heart of faith begins to harden.

By ‘first love’, the Bible is talking about the love of God. In Revelation 2:4, that word is translated from the word ‘agape’. The word ‘first’ in that passage means ‘first in order’. What is being taught is that before ministry or any religious activity, agape love has to be put in front of everything. Agape must always be the focus, and the lens we look through when we address the world or any problem in the church or its people. Since Agape love’s only source is from God, we can only love like God loves if we are receiving the love of God. We comfort others with the comfort we are receiving from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). In our faith, we can only give what we are receiving. Anything else comes from the flesh of human nature.

With that being said, we should understand that our personal faith is based on establishing our hearts in the love of God. Christianity is not about what we do for God. It is about walking with God. You and I will always struggle in faith and life until we realize that God’s purpose for us is to experience the intimacy of friendship with Him. Look at these passages – one from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament.

James 2:23

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.

Exodus 33:11

So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…

The great men and women of faith aren’t those who have special abilities, or who experience favoritism from God. Throughout the Bible, God says that He is not a respecter of persons. In other words, He doesn’t show favoritism based on someone’s status, wealth, abilities, or race. Often, it’s quite the opposite. Rarely is the person of strength or status chosen by God. Those who are of status have a difficult time recognizing that weakness is the only way to receive God’s strength. They rely upon themselves; therefore, are not able to trust in Him enough to lay down their lives so they can take up the life He has created for them.

This is the call of faith – to lay down your life as an offering of faith so you can receive the new life, created for you in Christ. Then the call of faith is to remain in His love, resisting the human reasoning of religion and resist the call to return to the world’s value system.

These temptations arise when our eyes focus in the wrong direction. The eyes of our flesh see value in the things that are temporary and are bound to a world that is passing away. To experience the joy of the Christian life, we have to be experiencing the joy of fellowship with our Creator.

The only way to experience faith on the level God designed for you is to focus on knowing Him, and stop focusing on yourself. Confidence only matures in our hearts when we become Christ confident. This comes by seeking Him and learning how to receive His love. Walking by faith is always trusting completely in Christ. Rest in His love and grow in faith.

Eddie Snipes
April 2024

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