OUR FIRST LOVE
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. January 24, 1999)
And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, he began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the son of Man will be to this generation.
The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.
If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”
The Jews had asked for a sign from Heaven, so Jesus provides it. His resurrection, in which no human agency is involved and which only relies on divine power, fully and only satisfies this demand.
Then he gives them more, in talking about why they were demanding a sign and whether or not they could see it.
The external light that shines outside us needs a corresponding organ in us fitted to receive it. So then that organ becomes the lamp within. The state or health of that organ has to do with how much light, more or less, we receive from without. In our bodies this organ, which by means of the external light becomes the lamp for the whole body, the hand and foot, is our eye. Everything depends on the state of this organ.
For the soul, Jesus does not tell us what this organ is. We have to guess, the heart. The understanding, the will, the whole spiritual being is illuminated by the divine light that the heart will admit. With every motion in the way of righteousness, there is a discharge of light over the whole soul.
Single = simple, whole, not divided, healthy, not corrupted. Pure, intent on one purpose.
Evil = bad, corrupted, diseased, ill, unhealthy. Adulterated, divided in purpose.
If the Jews were right in heart, they would see the divine signs that Jesus continually gave, as easily as the Queen of Sheba and the Ninevites perceived the less brilliant ones that they had before them. But the Jew's hearts were perverse, their organ of sight was diseased, and so the sign is shining and getting brighter and brighter for no use in front of their eyes. The light outside did not become light in them.
So it becomes extremely important to watch over the state of this precious organ. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23) When the spiritual eye is single and clear the whole inner man is full of light. He has the light of life.
How do I guard my heart? How do I get it to be healthy and able to see and be penetrated by God's light?
The pure soul aspires to God, to find him, to know him and turn or modify our behavior to be pleasing to him. But on the long road of our quest we get sidetracked with the things and people around us, which are the main, if not the only other ways to which our hearts can incline. The two aspects of our environment that pulls our hearts away from God are everything we have to do with in this world. So we must by faith be honest and self-reflective concerning where our hearts really are, and wise in understanding the temporary nature of things - and people.
("But God is so boring!!") - to the flesh...
1.) To a man who has bad eyesight or is blind, an Art Gallery is boring.
Jehovah is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
Jehovah is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of Jehovah,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of Jehovah
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of Jehovah,
And to inquire in his temple.
His glory is beyond description, his love and mercy and goodness are the most beautiful things you will ever see. His power, when just glimpsed, will knock you off your feet.
“A little while longer and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you are about to manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
If you want to see God - give him your heart, love him first. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Mt.5:8)
2.) To a deaf man a symphony is boring. The truth is like a symphony. There are pieces that give me chills - (Copeland, The Rodeo Suite; Elmer Bernstein, To Kill a Mockingbird; Mussorgsky, The Hero's Gate at Kiev.)
The satisfaction of righteousness is like that. "Love rejoices with the truth." (1Cor 13) It is music to her ears, when wisdom is justified and truth prevails, that is when the heart is satisfied. Some of the best sermons I have ever heard were like the overture, three movements and the finale of a symphony. I've heard sermons, that if their power had been physical, would have blown the the back wall of the building out.
When we give our hearts to God we must at the same time break off affection for everything else. Die to those things. Reject them as not being worthy of keeping you from God. Voices will yell at you from the side lines, but give your heart to God anyway. People will throw up hurdles in your way, but give your heart to God anyway. Your friends will cast your name out as evil, but give your heart to God anyway.
Then when you are fully and completely God's - from his bosom you begin seeing as he sees (like the child in the lap of her Papa sees with his eyes) but here, it is the absolute clarity of truth and radiant light from which you see.
And when you have emptied yourself of all other desires - all the conflicts have ceased - and you belong completely to God - then what he does is he gives it all back to you; he gives you all things.
Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things about to come – all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Not to idolize them again, but to now, see and enjoy them in the context of who you really are in him. These things become sanctified for our use. But not to heap them upon our lusts, but to use them in freedom from their enslaving qualities, to the glory of God and your own satisfaction and joy - in him.
In Rev. 2:4, it was Ephesus who left their first love.
Have you left your primary love, the one that came first in your heart? You can make that right again and it will be as if you have awakened from a deep sleep, and Christ will give you light, if you seek him humbly with all your heart.
Maybe you have never really sought God the way you have heard of in this lesson. Pray to God for a pure heart and then humbly submit yourself in obedience to him.
That is the same thing the person coming to God for the first time needs to do. By faith calling on him to cleanse you from your sins in baptism, repenting of your past life and confess that Jesus is your Lord and that your heart and life are given to him.
~ Invitation ~