By Ray Jewell
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. – Revelation 3:1-6
What grabs me right off here is Jesus; condemnation of this church. “You look good, you maybe even smell good, but you are dead.” The way He says it about this church reminds me of the times he condemns the Pharisees of being white-washed tombs, looks good on the outside but nothing but dead men’s bones on the inside. Sardis is a church that rests on its laurels. I just see the people there remembering the good ole days, days when they were a thriving Christian community, doing great things in the name of Jesus.
But something happened along the way. Maybe they lost sight of their first love like the Ephesian church. Maybe the up and coming leaders were satisfied to trust in what the preceding generation had done. Whatever the reason, Jesus is not happy with the majority of the people. They had stopped doing the things important for a church to do and they were dying. Dying to the point of losing their position in the kingdom of God.
There are a few, though, who are still actively pursuing the things of God, a remnant if you will. Here is a key thing to remember, if someone stays true to the course they will never be taken out of the book of life. Those who disobey will lose their place. There is no other way to read this passage. The main message here is to be found worthy by the One who makes people worthy through His shed blood. Christ is saying to not rest on your laurels, rest in the message and the truth of His way, which is why the laurels were accomplished in the first place.
Unfortunately I know of several churches that end up closing their doors every year simply because they rested on what they did in the past. Or they remember the good ole days with such fondness they are not willing to change things to meet the needs of the new day. They stubbornly refuse to alter their approach to stay relevant. And they flow down the stream of tradition (read “we’ve never done it that way before.”) That attitude is deadly for a church.
Lord, I pray that I do not get caught up in remembering the good ole days and forget that those days are gone. Instrad of pining away for what was, help me to stay alive and alert to news ways of living prompted by Your Word and Your Spirit. In Your holy name, Amen.
Until next time,
TO THE GLORY OF GOD!