Holidays, Christmas trees and men in red suits with white beards. It’s Christmas time and we’re all full swing into this festive season with THE day fast approaching (as I write this it’s only 9 days away)! I love Christmas! But we have to admit that it can be a very demanding season. And if you’re anything like me, you need to set priorities quick-smart or you’ll leave the important things in life to chance. I need priorities if I am ever going to make time for the meaningful things in life. But what should we prioritise this Christmas...? What is of first importance during this festive season? There are certainly plenty of options to choose from, but I propose we look at what is of first importance to Jesus. In fact, Revelation 2:1-7 gives us an insight into what’s most important to him. In this passage, Jesus is addressing his church in Ephesus, saying:
2 “‘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. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 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. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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 2:2-7)
James Hamilton Jr. – a scholar – says that “Jesus states nine positive things he knows about the church” in the opening verses:
1.Jesus knows the good things they have done
2.He knows their hard work
3.He knows their perseverance
4.He knows that they cannot tolerate wicked people
5.Jesus knows that the church in Ephesus tested those who claim to be apostles but are not
6.And that they found these fake apostles out for what they were – false.
7.He commended the church for its endurance
8.He says they have been “bearing up” for his name’s sake
9.And finally, he says that they have “not grown weary”
This seems like a pretty solid church, does it not? The people work hard, they hate evil, they endure through trials… but yet Jesus is still not satisfied. In fact, they are on the verge of losing their status as a church (v5). Why? Because they neglected the first and primary responsibility of God’s people. They neglected the first and greatest commandment:
37 …“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)
Before any good work or deed can be done, Jesus desires our heart’s affections! This is of most importance to him and should be of most importance to us during this Christmas season. So let me ask you, what is capturing your heart’s affections this Christmas? Can I challenge you to stop and spend some time with Jesus each day as we approach December 25th? It can be so easy to wake up and rush into the day during such a busy time… but Jesus promises those who give their heart’s affections to him, he gives them the right “to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”.
Choose Jesus this Christmas,