By Spencer Keroff
Years ago, my oldest brother, Steve, was engaged to a girl I will refer to as Abigail. Steve and Abigail met at college, had the same circle of friends, and seemed perfect for each other. Although Abigail grew up in a Christian home and had accepted Jesus at a young age, Steve didn’t become a Christian until their university days. Steve heard and accepted the Gospel through a campus ministry, began to grow in his newfound faith, and within a year or two met Abigail. She seemed to be the answer to his prayers. She was fun, talented, and outgoing, truly a joy to be around. I was just the little brother to this budding relationship, but they were such a cute couple.
As the engagement proceeded and families began to prepare for the BIG day, Abigail approached Steve and asked a bizarre and inappropriate question, a question that was extremely hurtful and for which the answer was obvious. She asked Steve, “Do you mind, while we are engaged, if I date other people?”
What kind of question is that?! That’s like asking, “Do you mind if I use skunk’s emanation as perfume?” Of course, my brother minded! Engagement and the subsequent marriage are meant to be exclusive. Steve, as you can imagine, was absolutely crushed. He battled depression in the days and weeks following. Later Steve found out that Abigail was pregnant with a previous boyfriend’s baby. If the truth should be told, Abigail had a wandering eye, and that wandering eye led to a variety of consequences.
I heard a preacher once say in a sermon, “What if I said to my wife, ‘Honey, I love you! And you know, lately I’ve been thinking about all the other women that I love, but you’re still number one on my list!’”
As you can imagine, his statement led to an audible gasp in the audience! Then the pastor made this poignant observation: “My wife doesn’t want to be number one on my list; she wants to be my list.”
As I think back over everything we’ve walked through as a nation this past year, I see the body of Christ responding with a wandering eye. We have been consumed with everything else but Jesus – arguments and angst over COVID, masks, vaccinations, presidential politics, civil unrest, political division, the economy – and frankly, the consequences have been dire. If we are not careful, we will produce illegitimate children and forget our First Love. Jesus wants – no actually He demands – an exclusive love relationship. He doesn’t want to be number one on our list; He wants to be our list.
The Church of Ephesus, addressed in the book of Revelation, was busy doing and believing all the right things. Nevertheless, in their many pursuits, they forgot to pursue Christ. This church had a wandering eye. Jesus said, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5, NIV).
Over a decade ago, worship leader Kari Jobe made famous a song that declares,
The more I seek You
The more I find You
The more I find You, The more I love You
I wanna sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand
Lay back against You and breathe,
Feel Your heart beat
This love is so deep,
It’s more than I can stand
I melt in Your peace,
Sitting at the feet of Jesus is the place the body of Christ needs to start. After all, loving God and loving people is the essence of Christianity. It has the power to change the world! Now is the time to return to our First Love.
About the Author
Spencer Keroff has served as a youth pastor, associate pastor, and lead pastor. He currently ministers as lead pastor of First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa, and teaches at Harvest Bible College, a ministry of First Church. He has been married to Lisa for almost twenty years. The Keroffs have four children: Chloe, Josiah, Layla, and Liliana, and one Goldendoodle named Caspian.