Choosing the Beauty of First Love
an article by Graham Cooke
We did not choose God; He chose us and set His love upon us, as a seal over our own heart. We are to be governed by His passion for us in Christ. Choosing love above all else enables our hearts to be captivated by the Father’s very real affection for us. Our relationship with Him is founded on what He has made available to us in Christ.
As always, when we are talking relationally about being with God the issues of performance; identity and self-worth are prevalent. You can always tell the Christians who come from an impoverished spiritual tradition because they operate in the ways of the world rather than the pattern of the Kingdom.
Many Christians act as though being in Christ has no value in terms of the affections of God. Everything they receive comes to them through how they live rather than from Grace and their placement in Christ. They have little or no concept of “this grace in which we stand.”
Being loved by God is everything. Becoming the Beloved of God is a major part of our story and journey. No one loves us like God. No one understands us like God. Nothing can separate us from that love because His love never fails.
The Father has provided us with a double portion. Not only are we in Christ, but also Christ is in us, giving us an expectation of glory. Powerful things can happen when our identity is firmly established in who Christ is for us. Strongholds are broken; minds renewed; our spirit is restored and our lives are transformed.
There is a talk I gave called “Remodeling” from the Art of Thinking Brilliantly. It is concerned with getting people to think as God does about their circumstances. When we remodel our perceptions of life in line with Christ in us then a very different way of being with God opens up for us. For example, when we “consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God” (Romans 6:11), something must shift in the way we view ourselves. Remodeling is a way of perceiving that repairs and rebuilds our way of thinking to empower us to be restored to God in His fullness.
One of my favorite conferences was called "The Missing Piece". It's probably one of the best events I have done on the love of God. One powerful message, “Connecting to God’s Passion”, is about returning to first love. This is the love that existed before Genesis 1:1. It is the love between the Father and the Son. It takes God to love God because only God can love God fully. Everything we give to God must first come to us from God (1 John 4:19). Life in Christ is about learning to receive from God. There is no performance required. The pattern of the Kingdom is that all of our experiences come from who God wants to be for us.
We do not become a new person by changing our behavior. We discover the person we already are in Christ and we behave accordingly. Being restored to First Love means returning to a lifestyle of allowing yourself to be wonderfully loved! We therefore need to repent of our focus on our own performance and be restored to a life of responding to God’s passion for us specifically!
Choosing First Love should mean everything to us. Our starting place guarantees the outcome. Keeping ourselves in the love of God means that we choose for ourselves what the Godhead has already chosen for us. We must choose to be the Beloved always, then all the benefits of God’s affection for us will set us free to release all those with whom we connect.