Returning to First Love
May 04, 2017
Returning to First Love
As I was plugging in this laptop computer to write you this note, the oddest thing happened. I dropped the cord on my foot—just the plug-in part—and it hurt something fierce…
You see, as one of the lingering side-effects to the Chemo treatments, my fingers and toes are numb—and yet overly sensitive—all at the same time. Medically, it is called neuropathy. Physically, it is (for me) just a minor inconvenience. But spiritually, it can be incredibly dangerous…!
Spiritual numbness—neuropathy—can be caused by any number of “chemo” treatments, such as becoming offended (see blog entitled Love Overcomes Offense), or extreme trauma, or perhaps most commonly in our culture, busyness and exhaustion.
When we become numb to the Spirit—numb to the presence and Person of God—we almost always become hyper-sensitive to the slightest bumps and the smallest snubs from the people around us.
Ironically, you can’t suffer from numbness if you haven’t first enjoyed feeling. Superficial Churchianity “protects” people from becoming spiritually numb by never leading people to genuine and deep experiences of the Lord and His Spirit in the first place. Hopefully, however, we all recognize that shallow spirituality isn’t a good “solution!” I am grateful to have toes, even if they are currently numb!
Deep experiences of the Lord, then, lead us to feel—to LOVE—deeply. But life-inflicted neuropathy causes us to become hyper-sensitive to even small amounts of irritation…
This is the heart of what the Lord Jesus was speaking to the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2. This church had drunk deeply at first of the Lord’s presence and Love, feeling with incredible sensitivity His heart and His heart for others. But the church had become numb in love over time. And in that numb place, they were in danger of becoming hyper-sensitive to the perceived slights of their own brethren, and insensitive to the needs of the community around them…
Our congregation has been called by the Lord to be a place where people really and genuinely experience the Lord deeply. We have a congregational expectation to feel and soak in the LOVE of God—and then to share that Love with our neighbors. In those deep experiences of Jesus—in Life Groups, or while listening to the Word using the Life Journal, or at the Lord’s Supper, or in a prayer circle—wherever—we develop a deep sense of feeling, spiritually—and we Love extravagantly because we bask in the presence of the One who first loved us!
But, like the Church at Ephesus, we are in danger of numbness—precisely because we first learned how to feel… Because we have felt Love deeply—we can become numb to it. We can suffer from temporary—or even permanent—spiritual neuropathy. Numb to the presence of the Lord, we become overly sensitive to loved-ones around us, hurting fiercely simply because of an inadvertent slight…
THE CURE? END THE NUMBNESS! When the numbness is gone, so is the hyper-sensitivity to slights. SO HOW DO WE CURE THE NUMBNESS? By leaning in again to the One who gave us feeling in the first place. We must fight through in prayer and worship and Word until we feel—really feel—again. And once we are restored to sensitivity in our hearts, we quit being overly-sensitive in our flesh…!
For this reason, Jesus told the Church at Ephesus to Love like they did at first. We must, too!