[2:1] “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.  Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:1-7 ESV)
When I read this I could help but think of my time in ministry so far.
When I was in the secular work force, I used to think that life in ministry work would be easy. After all pastors just talk with people about God and read their Bible’s right? I have come to find that this is not the case.
It seems that in order for a person to survive in the ministry you must not only be able to commit a large amount of time to people and personal study but that you must also be equipped to do an array of other things as well. If you don’t know how to do something that is needed in the church, you must learn it. Therefore, the pastor becomes a swiss army knife of skills for the church, a jack of all trades but a master of none. The other part of this is the work load. There is never and end to needs of the people and the pains of people. I have personally found myself working harder than I ever have in this season of life. (I am not complaining. I enjoy the work. There is just a lot of work to do.)
In this hectic life there is great reward when things progress and lives are changed. I have found great joy in those changed lives and in my personal growth just like the church at Ephesus did. But in this hectic time it is hard to focus on the grace we were given at the cross. I can see how it is easy to become enamored in our systems or philosophies and the progress that is made in ministry . In doing this, we lose focus on what matters, our first love.
As I was reading through this I couldn’t help but think about the words of Paul to the Philippians in 1:21 (For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.) I believe that the same message Paul was delivering to the Philippians is the message Christ is giving to the Ephesians. Both churches were being urged to live in Christ.
The Ephesian church in Revelation was caught up in their own agendas in ministry but not focusing on God as they should. They were not allowing God to work through them in the ministry.
You see, just as Paul was calling the Philippians to lay down their lives and live through Christ, we are also called to lay down our lives and live through Christ. We are to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins in ministry and be willing to kill our agenda or philosophies in order that He may live through us. So let me give you a few questions to ponder for today whether you are working in a ministry or just for you daily life.
Who’s agenda are you working on now? (Did you seek God before making the plan and during the formation of the plan?)
Does your current agenda align with God’s Word and will?
Are you willing to throw that agenda out if it is not what God desires for you?
How can you seek God’s agenda in a more effective way in the future?