There is much good about the emphasis that the Church puts on discipleship. We pray, fast, and study the Bible better than any other generation. We have as our pastors and teachers men and women who have been equipped in seminaries and educated in counseling and church growth. And we are doing missions better than ever.
But I think there is something missing. I seriously believe we have misplaced intimacy. Our worship services seem mechanical. We are no longer in a wild love affair with the One who really matters. We no longer dwell on Him, crying out for His grace and mercy.
Could it be that the evangelical church in America has passed its expiration date?
Perhaps we have grown confused, and have struggled with an emptiness that is at the core of a legalistic and a works dominated life. We do not cry out with a passionate love for Him who desperately wants to hold us close. We miss out on so much.
The Old Testament book of the Song of Solomon is the love story between a shepherdess and her beloved. This love is a love that first envelops and then controls a person’s entire being. Her love is intense, as well as thirsty. She needs her shepherd. There is an element of being ‘lovesick’ and never settling for a second best relationship with her beloved.
Biblical discipleship must always be intimacy with Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes about his deep concern for that particular Church,
2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”
There is jealousy involved here (which is suspect by us) and foolishness (which is embarrassing) and is emotional (not at all what we think.) This passage suggests a higher and purer following of Jesus that Satan wants to corrupt. Paul was concerned that these Corinthians would not be a pure bride. He got jealous over their vulnerability. He believed that they would miss the bridal love that they once knew.
I want to challenge you to keep the innocence of your relationship with Jesus. Guard it and refuse to be led away from its simple devotion. Love Jesus with a white-hot love. Eternity is a long time to spend with someone who you feel ambivalent about.
Learn the language of romance again and remember that your discipleship is not an end in itself. Biblical discipleship is nothing more than intimacy with Jesus. We must settle on this in our hearts. The true foundation of discipleship can only be a kind of ‘first love’.
“ Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
P.S. A fanatic is someone who loves Jesus more than you.
- Jesus, Romancer of the Church (brokenbelievers.com)
- We Are Only Radical Together (brokenbelievers.com)