"Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen..." Revelation 2:5
Jesus never commanded His followers to remember His birthday. This may come as a surprise to churches that can get overactive imaginations when it comes pageants, cantatas, camels, hay, and bathrobes. This is not to say His birthday was not a great day, but it was just the beginning of the greatest work that God was going to do.
When Jesus calls His disciples to remember, He is calling them to recall the day they first fell in love with Him. The love of Christ was not poured out on a lost world in a stable, but on hill far away from the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus purchased salvation on a cross, not a manger. That is something to remember.
Dr. Jack McGorman, my Greek professor, was dragging me verse through verse through the book of Galatians in 1976 when I heard him say, "Jesus did not die by fractions on the cross." He was "affectionately" and privately called "Cactus" Jack by his students. He had a way of piercing the thin skin of novice theologians with the sharp point of truth from The Word of God. His words stay with me every time I give an offering to the Lord's work. He reminded us that debating percentages when we are honoring the Savior was very poor form indeed. Something to remember.
Jesus gathered His disciples together on the night before His death and shared The Cup and The Bread with them, and commanded them to "Do this in remembrance of me!" Many people take the invitation to the Lord's Supper as optional. They see it as an occasion to skip out and do something else more important, because the service will not exactly be up to their standards that Sunday. Too quiet. Too contemplative. Not enough laughter. Such a downer. The Cup and The Bread of the Lord's Supper are certainly two very important things to remember.
What else could be remembered to restore a first love for Jesus? "The Passion of the Christ" a movie by a hardened, Hollywood mogul like Mel Gibson could be a tool for remembrance. The weakest part of his movie's message was the power and the reality of the resurrection. It certainly falls short of the whole story, but it gets the pain and the humiliation down with overwhelming accuracy. His death is something to remember.
First love is not matter of chronology, but a lesson in priority. The love that Jesus calls the Church at Ephesus to remember was the intense, and intimate communication that took place between them when they first discovered what Jesus had done for them. They had initially given Him their hearts, and had gradually substituted their time, talent, and treasure. He missed their love for Him more than He honored their work for Him. Remember. Jesus knows the difference.
Love is an act of the will and not a figment of the imagination. It is not a flight of fancy, or a deluded fantasy. It is more than an emotional feeling. William Barclay defines this "agape" love as"unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill."
Love is not given "because of" what is done by another. Love is something that is done in spite of what is done to another. It is an expression of the will to respond in kindness, instead of reacting in kind.
Awakening is part of an ongoing process of God's people being filled enough, long enough with the Person of the Holy Spirit for the character of Christ to spill out on those who do not believe. Jesus told His followers that unbelievers would recognize them as belonging to Him by the love they had for one another. Awakenings outside the church often happen when life hits people in the church hard enough to spill out on others what God has put in them. Remember. People need to see the love of Jesus.
"God's will for your life is to make you empty of you and full of Him. He uses people and circumstances to knock you out of you so He can fill you with Himself." Bill Stafford.