It is amazing how often God uses metaphors or other human proclivities to depict spiritual conditions and to correct His people.
We read in Revelation 2:4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Clearly God does affix quite a value to the first love. In the human side, what makes the “first love” so special? It generates passion, for starters; it fills the lucky (or hapless) human being with such emotional excitement hardly comparable to anything else. It usually propels him (her) to go at all lengths to fulfill the obtainment. Success brings previously unknown ecstasy and exhilaration, failure means agony and despair. There can hardly be any other state or condition that translates in either agony or ecstasy. However the human mind is not capable of maintaining that kind of feeling perpetually. It eventually simmers down, at best.
God has placed in the human soul this potential capacity to love, generally expressed in feeling and emotion. Spiritually, God urges the early converts to return to their “first love”, the love of the first discovered truth. We know what God is talking about as we have experienced it when we discovered the Truth.
We felt like telling it to everybody as it “permeated out of our skin”. It was just wonderful knowledge, precious, or, as the Scripture so eloquently depicts it, “…when he had found a pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt 13:46).
However, there is another peculiarity, not described above, that the “first love” displays: mental blindness. Could you try to convince either of the two that they are not suited for each other or that there is some fault with the “beloved”? It would do as much good as trying to make a hole in the water! Nothing could ever be wrong!! How many parents have found this to be a hopeless case?!
Even if the scarce chance would permit for one to see something wrong with the other, it would be overlooked or minimized as unimportant.
Did this “first love” romantic condition apply to us, when we came into the Church? Very much so, I dare say! Particularly for people, like myself, who came from a non-biblical background, the “first love” was ‘pure and faultless’. No possible error or wrong could be seen.
Eventually we could begin to “see” some inconsistencies between the Written Word and the Church practices, but “love” would prevail so as to overlook certain things. (I use the word “Church” instead of “Assembly” because it fits better with the subject. “Assembly” gives the impression of a local congregation.) Apostle Paul instructs on Church services when different people speak, prophesy and speak in tongues, just to mention few. In the WCG this would have been as alien as an Eskimo in Saudi Arabia!
God instructs to “Prove all things” (1Thes 5:21), but the “first love” effect is such that the Scripture doesn’t register, at least not for a certain length of time. So some people jumped off the boat sooner than others. I must hasten to say that by no means do I imply that God caused us to be blind, but wants us to be zealous. That is the significance of Revelation 2:4. Undoubtedly God has always been aware of the problem connected with the “first love” and will allow it as part of the human experience.
I do not intend to discredit HWA either. I do respect the man and appreciate his great, lengthy and dedicated work, and the great amount of spiritual knowledge he brought about. Yet, like everybody else he was human.
The Church that we initially loved became gradually “diseased” and, to every effect, became defunct. People left at different times, because some of the “love” still remained and….sort of remarried. They joined some of the larger splinter groups.
Here we go again! Some, like myself, saw the new Church as the restoration of the “First love”. (Some cunningly named the new Church with that catchy word).
What do they say? Men never learn from history? Unwittingly the first error was repeated by many, myself included.
If, at first, the whole Truth didn’t catch us, we eventually caught up with the Truth and began to “prove all things”, as we should have.
Someone wrote a long article for Servants’ News, an excellent article, where he says that we were responsible for what went on and we allowed it. I agree to a point there. Really and truly, if we could go back in time, not knowing nor understanding what we do now, and would do it all over again, I can’t see how it could be any different.
Now, what about in the Early Church? What effect did the “First love” have on them? I mean besides being zealous, or actually, as the result of being zealous, did they make their mistakes?
You can imagine the zeal they would show, many of them having seen Jesus in person, all of them having some direct contact with the apostles. Miracles and wonders were performed. The Truth was new, exiting, vibrant. They expected the Kingdom of God to be imminent, or, at least very close. Can you imagine how electrified they must have felt?
But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none (1Cor. 7:29).
Zeal also carried them away. The “First love” had prompted them to sell their properties: “ Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, And laid them at the apostles feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” (Acts 4:32,34-35).
Obviously the end didn’t come, and, as some in our time, some years back, that sold their properties anticipating an imminent end of the age, were greatly disillusioned. Many in the early Church lost faith, much the same with many of us in the twentieth century.
God knew all along, both the conditions of the early and twentieth century Church and, I must say, of the Church in the middle ages. That very long, greatly trying period of which we know little about and we talk even less. He has been aware all along and didn’t prevent the mistakes we have made. I guess it is part of the hard knocks we need to take in our journey to salvation. And that assessment may not be correct, after all. Rather than second-guess God I would quote His Words:
“The secret things belong to our God….” (Deut 29:29).
We trust Him and cheerfully continue plowing and learning. We can learn from the “First love” lesson.
— Adriano Borean