You've Lost that Loving Feeling

You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling

In 1964, the singing duo called The Righteous Brothers recorded a song by this title. The song described how one could tell that a person had lost that loving feeling. It wasn’t something big. It was little things that were different and the evidence couldn’t be hidden. The jilted lover begged that person to return back to the point where the loving feeling was real again.

For me, some secular songs take on a new meaning. This song reminded me of Jesus speaking to His Church. As I thought about it some more, I asked myself, “Have I lost that loving feeling for Christ?” To answer that question, let’s look at our lives for evidence.

This is what Jesus said to the Church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-7“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

This church, like many of us, had no problem performing their Christian duty, or preaching the correct doctrine. They were straight on those matters. Unfortunately, it is possible for a church, or an individual believer, to be technically correct in their ministry, and yet lack a loving feeling for Jesus Christ or for others. When that happens, their ministry becomes a mere performance without power, and sentiment without substance.

The Holy Spirit is the source of that loving feeling. Ministry motivated by any other source is fleshly and becomes mechanical and hypocritical. We must be on guard against anything that would grieve the Holy Spirit and rob us of our love for Christ.

Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The Ephesian church was a serving body of believers, for which the Lord commended them. However, with many Christians and churches of today, it is not a matter of whether they are serving, but why are they serving. Are we serving out of self-righteousness, or guilt, or from a passionate love for Jesus? How can we tell?

Self-righteous service comes through human effort and makes us weary over time. True service, motivated by love, comes from a relationship with Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, who sustains us throughout time.

Self-righteous service seeks external rewards. Service from love is content with having an intimacy with Christ that comes from doing His will.

Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. Service from love is satisfied with sowing seeds and allowing others to reap the harvest.

Self-righteous service is affected by moods, and whims, and who is in need. Love serves humbly and faithfully because there is a need.

Self-righteous service is temporary. Service motivated by love is a life-style.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The church in Ephesus considered evil intolerable. The Ephesian Christians tested every teacher by the truth of God’s Word. They did not accept every new philosophy that came along. Jesus commended them for these things. The church of Jesus Christ has no business practicing “political correctness”, nor condoning sin or false teaching.

However, it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer for Christ’s sake, and yet not really love Jesus! The Ephesian believers were so busy maintaining their separation from evil that they were neglecting their adoration for Jesus. Labor is no substitute for love. Neither is purity a substitute for passion. The church and individuals must have them all if they are to please Jesus.

We have heard lately that a lot of churches have failed in recent years. Many churches haven’t seen a move of God’s Spirit in years and they accept it as normal. They don’t realize that they have lost that loving feeling. Did Christ remove those failed churches’ lampstand?

Al said to me recently, “I wish we could have a revival.” I do too, but I asked him, “Do you mean a series of meetings one week, or something motivated by God?” With a question like that, what could he say? He assured me that he meant the real thing and I truly believe him.

Now, if you want Al to invite an evangelist to speak for a week, it is OK with me. However, a real revival is not something we can plan or generate with a lot of activity. A real revival is generated by the Holy Spirit. It is possible that the Holy Spirit can begin a revival during a week of messages from an anointed preacher. However, for a real revival to occur, it requires individual Christians desiring and praying, “God, help me return to my first love for Jesus.” To sincerely pray that, we must recognize our first love for Christ has faded. We must confess to Jesus that we have lost that loving feeling and repent of every sin that competes with our love for Christ. An evangelist is not a requirement. Jesus said the requirement is, “Repent.”

The reason we are not in a revival now is that we are content to live without it.

Fading love was a problem in the church at Ephesus. At one time, the members there had been hot in their love for the Lord. Forty years after the founding of the congregation, however, they had lost that loving feeling and they were unaware of it, because they were still busy in ministry and holding to the right doctrines. Does that describe you and me?

Loving the Lord means that we are to hate anything that is contrary to His Word. But here’s the paradox. We are to express this holy hatred as loving people. That’s why we patiently instruct those who are willing to hear and be instructed regarding the Truth.

Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Our goal is to win people to the Truth, which is Christ. When the Truth stops being listened to, then we have to show Christ’s disdain for false beliefs by separating ourselves from them.

Whatever the reason for the loss of love, Jesus tells the Ephesians to repent and to rekindle their love. He warned that if they didn’t, He would take away their light in this dark world. Today, Ephesus is in ruins and there is no church there.

If we want to make sure Jesus doesn’t take His light away from us, then, we too, must repent and return to our first love. We must change our attitude and the way we do things.

Ephesians 4:17-24 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

And so, only when we repent of our sin and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the source of love, can that loving feeling for Jesus and for one another return.

There exists in every person an emptiness that yearns to be filled. We can find ourselves dissatisfied, discontent, and unfulfilled in our jobs, our friendships, and even in our faith. This yearning is often mistaken as a need for new things, or new experiences, or new friends, or a new church.

Worse still, some consider that this emptiness has come from within their marriage and they need to change spouses.

Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The emptiness and yearning within us gets bigger and deeper every time we try to fill it with anything, or anyone, other than Jesus. Jesus is calling us to have a loving and vibrant relationship with Himself. Our Lord yearns for intimacy with us, His bride! Therefore, we must spend time with Him. Our learning must be from Him, not just about Him. We must work with Him, not just for Him.

But we think there must be something more than intimacy with Jesus! That is too boring to attract any crowds to our church. So some churches and individuals try to fill this emptiness by chasing after the latest religious movement, hoping that it is a sovereign work of Holy Spirit, even though it may have no biblical foundation or historical precedence. They try marketing techniques to reach the lost. They recruit celebrity speakers, musicians, and comedians in order to attract a crowd. They don’t realize that they have lost that loving feeling for Christ and need to repent.

As a result of losing our first love, churches are filled with programs instead of His presence. Buildings and messages are prepared to attract visitors rather than make believers attractive to Christ. The focus is on becoming "healthy" rather than becoming holy, conforming to the will of man rather than conforming to the will of God. They are more sensitive to the spiritual seeker than to God.

If they weren’t so concerned about nickels, noses, and numbers, they would teach what Jesus taught—that is, “repent”! Teaching repentance is of primary importance for the spiritual seeker because it will help bring purification to his soul and a love for Jesus Christ that will fill the emptiness in his life.

The desires of the flesh must be put to death, and yet, we’re afraid of dying to self. We want the power of the resurrection, but we forget we have to first experience the Cross.

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Oh, but we think, “The crowds won’t come to hear that message!” So we don’t preach it. We don’t teach about self-denial and taking up our cross. But they are essential to following Jesus.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

We have become a generation of people seeking tolerance and understanding, trying to determine who we are, but we aren’t finding answers. The answer is found in Jesus. Jesus says, “Repent!” If we will repent, Jesus will give us what is missing in our life—the Holy Spirit!

But we are afraid to yield control to the Holy Spirit. We are content with just attending church services, especially if they make us feel good. Therefore, while we are faithful church attenders, we lack love, freedom, joy, and peace. It is a sure sign that we are not filled with the Holy Spirit and have lost that loving feeling towards Christ.

True revival will come about as a result of a deep hunger for God. Just as a hungry infant cries out and doesn’t care where they are or who hears them cry, we must be willing to cry out to God and lose our life by dying to self, so we can find His life, which is abundant life.

Matt 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

It is the responsibility of the Church to see that Jesus is lifted up so that the whole world will be drawn to Him. All the gifts of Holy Spirit, all the different manifestations of God are to draw us to Jesus. Seeking after the gifts and not the giver of the gifts results in un-fulfillment and emptiness. It is when we lift Jesus up, that the world will be drawn to Him.

Jesus said in John 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.

We must preach the Gospel and lovingly teach who Jesus is, what it means to belong to Him, who we are in Christ, and what He desires of us. Repentance and holiness come as a natural result of being in His presence and hearing His Word.

The yearning, which comes with the dissatisfaction of all that this world has to offer, exists because—only Jesus can truly satisfy. Seeking Jesus first will bring peace. Sitting at His feet is where we will find rest.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If a born-again Christian wants to have a personal “revival” and return to that first love they had for Jesus, then they should repent of their sin and follow the advice given to Timothy “to stir up the gift God”, the Holy Spirit, they have allowed to lay dormant like a sleeping ember.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

The Holy Spirit is God in Us. God is love. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will be filled with God’s love. Then we will have all the grace and power we need to walk daily in true repentance, esteeming everyone more highly than ourselves, and love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Then we will have power to be Christ’s ambassador and grace to fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples where ever we are!

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Do you remember when you were first saved? You loved the Lord so much that He was on your mind constantly and all you wanted to do was to talk about Him and serve Him. Jesus is calling for His Church to remember that time and return to her first love.

If we still had our first love, we would be praising and worshipping God with a joyful noise. We would be witnessing to the lost. We would love each other and forgive each other of sins that were committed against us (most of the time it is unintentional).

Theology or religion will not save our church. Repenting and returning to our first love for Christ will save it. If we will repent and return to our first love and do those things that we first did as new Christians, God will pour out His blessings upon this church. Then we will see a revival that will exceed all expectations!

Don’t just sit back and watch a church die. That is not God’s will. Do whatever He is speaking to you today. If it is “repent”, then repent. Cry out to your Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you will have grace to die to self and love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Then we can come together as one in Christ, filled with love for Christ, and filled with love for one another. That will draw others to Christ and consequently to this church.

Maybe you have never experienced the kind of love for Jesus that has been described today. Well, that is what is missing in your life. Seek Jesus with all your heart and you will find Him. He will fulfill you by filling you with Himself, the Holy Spirit.

If God is speaking to you about giving your life to Jesus, you can do so today. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross and rose from the grave, confess this faith publicly. Then repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus by dying to self in baptism. You will be raised with Christ, born of the Holy Spirit, to live a new life filled with love for Jesus Christ.