If someone were to take a look at the way you spent your time last week, what would they deduce is your number one priority?
Unless you named “Netflix” or “Partying,” your priorities are probably things that are inherently good. We emphasize the things in life where we feel we need to do well in the eyes of the world and especially the people we love. Pastor Bryan Loritts said, even “good things become bad things when they become ultimate things.” He explained, “One of the great temptations of life is to trade in what is essential for what is good; to neglect first things first. We need to make sure we are navigated not by the tyranny of the urgent, but by the north star of priority.”
“Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary… 6 Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
Revelation 2:1-3, 6 CSB
The lampstands represent the seven churches addressed in Revelation and the seven stars represent the angels (likely, the pastors) of those churches. Pastor Bryan points out that Jesus pictured walking among the churches and holding the pastors of those churches in His hand reminds us He cares about His people and is in control. He said, “The same God that was in control of the church of Ephesus and cared for the church of Ephesus is the same God who is in control of this church and cares for this church.”
Pastor Bryan uses the math principle known as order of operations to illustrate that you can get the math right, but if the sequence is wrong, the whole thing is wrong. He explained, “If Jesus isn’t first, it’s all messed up.” That’s what had happened in the church at Ephesus. At some point, passion for Jesus had dropped lower than ministry in their list of priorities. There were three things the church at Ephesus was commanded to do: remember the love they had, repent of their lovelessness, and return to doing ministry out of love for God and people. Pastor Bryan says it this way: “Do what you did when all you had was Me. The problem with many Christians is we’re just too doggone sophisticated. Go back.”
The Tree of Life and paradise are waiting for those who love Jesus above all else. Like Pastor Bryan explained, when we do not listen, remember, repent, and redo, we are trading in fullness of joy for temporary joy.