By Rick Cowman
Many of you are basketball fans. And if you know anything about basketball, the skill of rebounding is critical to winning games, especially in the playoffs! Players who can do it well get paid big bucks. So why is rebounding so important? Because a lot of shots taken at the basket are missed. The ball doesn’t always go through the hoop, but instead bounces off the rim! The winners are those who get the most rebounds and make the most shots into the goal. This is true in the Christian life as well.
All of us have taken some bad shots at life. We know where the hoop is and we have the ball, but somehow we don’t always hit the target. The concern is not so much for the missed shots. What matters most is the rebounds. What matters is what we do to get up, get back in the game, and take some more shots!
This week, we continue our series through the first three chapters of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. And in Revelation chapter 2, verses 1 through 7, we find a letter Jesus wrote to the church located in Ephesus. While it was written a long time ago and to a specific church in Asia, it is also a letter He has written for us and our churches today. As Jesus walked in the midst of this church He saw a lot of good things. He saw some good people and all the right programs in place. He saw a church which was very busy doing the work of ministry. This was a church that had endured intense persecution, but stood firm in their faith. In fact, there was only one area where they had let things slip. There was something missing, and it was their devotion to Him! Jesus said to them (vs 4), “You have left your first love….ME!” You see, Jesus wants our DUTY, to be sure; but He also first and foremost passionately desires our DEVOTION! These folks had gotten forgetful. They had “left” Jesus behind in the dust of their religious busyness, and it had caused them to slip away from their love and devotion to the one they were serving! They had missed the goal of developing a vital relationship with Him!
To the public eye this church was successful. But according to Jesus’ evaluation, it had failed! They were busy doing church, but they weren’t connected to Jesus! Their love and excitement in loving God had grown cold. And God judges our church not by the size of our building or the number of people or the number of programs, but by the size of our heart for Him! So, what had gone wrong? The duty that had resulted from their devotion to Christ had taken the place of their love relationship with Him. Oswald Chambers said it this way: “The greatest competitor to our devotion to Christ is our service for Him!” Did you hear that? I believe he is correct in his assessment. No matter how long we’ve been a believer and follower of Christ, or how strong our love once was for Him, there is always a danger of our love for Him growing cold because of a shift in focus.
Have you allowed something to replace your “first love” for Christ? Then there have been some missed shots somewhere! We have taken some bad shots at the Christian life. But there’s good news — the game’s not over yet! The final buzzer hasn’t sounded! You can still REBOUND! You can take another shot at the goal and regain that first love for God and still come out a winner in the game of life! Someone once said, “You are only a failure if you fail to get back up!” But how do we go about rebounding the missed shots at the goal of knowing and loving God?
We’ll look at Jesus’ response to that question when we pick this study up again in two weeks!