The Lost Hope, and Love's Decline
The early Christians waited for the Lord from heaven. They lived and served and suffered, "looking for that blessed hope " (Tit. ii. 13). They "took joyfully the spoiling of their goods," because they knew that they had in heaven a better and abiding possession (Heb. x. 34, R.V.). The world was to them "a wilderness wide," because the One on whom their heart's love was set was not there. It had cast Him out and crucified Him. The Church was separate from the world and persecuted by it, in those bright, early years of first love among the people of God. But as love declined the hope was lost, and the Church became united to the world. When the heart says, "My Lord delayeth His coming," the next stage is to smite fellow-servants who still "hold fast the hope," and then to join in common cause with the world. When the heart is true to Christ, and waiting for His coming, there will be no lack of service for His Name. To "serve" and to "wait" (1 Thess, i. 9, 10) is the way of love. But when love declines, and the hope is lost, saints become indifferent to that which belongs to Christ, have little interest in His Word and work, and became like the world of the ungodly. Such was the course of events in the Church at the beginning, and such they are in the lives of the saints individually.