Friday, March 28, 2014

Sardis: A Dead Church With A Reputation

In the second and third chapters of Revelation are letters from Jesus to seven of the first century churches in what is today Turkey. While I believe these letters were addressed to real churches of that day, I also believe they have great application to our churches today. The fifth of these was to the church of Sardis.
 “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 NIV
Jesus accuses the church of Sardis of being dead.  He also tells them they need to wake up, implying that they are asleep.  Sardis is a church where nothing is really happening, God is not being honored, lives are not being changed, and the good news is not being proclaimed.  They are just going through the motions.

Sardis apparently had not always been like that.  They did have a reputation for being alive.  It would appear that at one time in their short history they had been making a difference in their community and living as the body of Christ.  But that time was gone, although it is likely that they did not realize that their reputation was no longer a good representation of who they were.  That is the danger of falling asleep and dreaming of past glory; you may still think yourself to be what you were in the past.

Their deeds were unfinished in the sight of God.  Did they see them as finished?  Or were they something that they planned on getting back to 'any day now', as soon as the summer slump or economic downturn was over?  Whatever the case, they are warned that they need to wake up, repent, and get back to work.  If not, disaster is looming for them.

But in the midst of this dead church, Christ does identify a few who are still alive.  They are faithful in spite of the condition of the church they are a part of.  And they are commended and promised that their faithfulness will be rewarded.  How hard to faithfully serve, when all around you folks are sleeping.  But that faithfulness will not go unnoticed by the one whose opinion counts the most.

Does the church where you serve have a good reputation?  That's good, so long as it's based on your current condition.  Otherwise it can blind you to a less than commendable condition.  Where is your church now?  Is it alive?  Is it awake?  Is it fully engaged in serving God?  If not, then it is past time to wake up and get back on track.  Tomorrow may be too late.

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