By Mike Miller
Someone recently sent me this question:
Pastor Mike, how do we get our desire back for God? I am a believer, but have just stepped away. I still attend church, but that is it. It’s like the only time I worship God or anything is when i am at church or occasionally in the car on the way to work or something. I do not pray like I should or read my Bible? Does God get disappointed at us when we walk away from Him? Also, not to contradict myself when I say I am a believer, but could it be that maybe I just haven’t completely surrendered my all to Him? I feel that I have accepted Christ and have had some changes in my life since doing so, but maybe just didn’t give Him everything. Does this mean that I am truly not saved?
The reality is that we all have times when our Christian walk is not as sweet as it should be or as it has been in the past. Those times are perfectly normal in the Christian life. We’re just not as close to Jesus as we should be, and this causes us not only sadness and anxiety, but also the questioning of our salvation. Believe it or not, I think this is good, because we should all take a hard look at our salvation from time to time. I fear for those who have walked an aisle in a church and prayed a prayer, yet are not truly saved, but they never examine their lives to test the validity of their salvation. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?– unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” Nevertheless, when we are distant, we don’t want to stay there. When our desire has faded, we want it back. Let’s look at Scripture to see what to do.
Through the Apostle John, Jesus sent a letter to the church in Ephesus, and it is recorded in Revelation 2:1-7. He commended the church for some things, but He took exception to something: “You have abandoned the love you had at first” (verse 4). In other words, they were doing good things, but they had lost their love for Jesus. They had drifted away in their devotion and affections for Him. Therefore, in verse 5, Jesus told them what they needed to do.
First, he said, “Remember . . . from where you have fallen.” They were to remember and reflect on what it was like when they were inflamed with passion for Jesus. Just like in a marriage, sometimes people forget about what it was like when they fell in love. They forget why they fell in love and what they loved about each other. In our walk with Jesus, when we grow stale, we need to remember back to when it was sweet and rich. Can you remember that? In your question you indicated that you were unsure about your initial commitment to Jesus, but you said that you had seen some changes in your life. My question for you is about those changes. Was it that you were making those changes, or was Jesus making them? What I mean is that we can change our behaviors because we know they are wrong and maybe because we are expected to make some changes. But coming to Jesus is not about cleaning up our lives, it is about casting our lives on Him. The changes still get made, but they are not merely external, behavioral changes. Jesus changes us from the inside. The external changes take place, not because we’re trying to change, but because we are truly different on the inside. Was that your experience? Can you remember when you were in love with Jesus and He was very real in your life? If not, then I encourage you to come to Him today. But if you can remember, then you can go to the next thing Jesus said to do.
Second, repent. That’s what He said. Repent. If you are not desiring God, and if you can remember how you used to be close to Him, you have to acknowledge that God is not the one who has drifted away. Losing our passion for God is ultimately our fault. We have somehow allowed sin in our lives. Perhaps there is some sin that you have drifted into, or perhaps your sin is simply laziness and complacency. Whatever it is, confess it and turn from it. Don’t play around. Don’t try to do a little better a little bit at a time. Fix the problem. Get aggressive with your sin, and take care of it.
Third, Jesus said to “do the works you did at first.” As you reflect on how it used to be, and as you acknowledge sin and turn from it, you should do those things you did when your relationship with Jesus was good. Were you reading your Bible more? Then start reading it more again. Were you serving in church more? Then get back into it. Again, in a marriage when people drift apart, I advise them to date and do the kinds of things they did when they were crazy about each other. Do that with Jesus.
Look, this really isn’t a formula that guarantees fast results. The Christian walk is a daily thing. Sometimes it’s sweeter than at other times. But when the passion fades, Jesus has told us what to do about it. Please email further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.