Most of us wish we could have more...we spend hundreds of dollars on new mattresses, we go to great lengths to make sure our bedrooms have the 'right' 'feng shui', so as to be relaxing, etc.
...but most of us are still wishing for more sleep.
There is one place where some of us have been sleeping too much, though: Church!
I don't just mean snoozing because some Pastor is droning on and on about Greek language...I mean "Spiritually sleeping"...like in the church at Sardis!
Jesus gives John a message to the church there, and it goes like this:
“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.' (Revelation 3:1-3)
He says 'Look, you've got a reputation for being alive...you do things that churches do...yet, I know the Truth...and the truth is, you're dead!'
Interesting note about the CITY of Sardis...it had once been influential and powerful, but now was in decline. It had a unique topography, being situated high on a cliff, and therefore, was thought to be safe...yet, it had been conquered twice! Why? Because of arrogance and laziness--the people (leaders especially) of Sardis did not prioritize watching for enemies. They thought themselves SO safe that they did not have to be watchful...and therefore, they'd been conquered and now were in decline and disrepair.
It seems as if the church in Sardis was in the same boat...they had not taken care to be watchful for enemies and attacks...and had been duped into compromise.
The church at Sardis had been influential, but had begun to change goals. Rather than thier goal being to glorify God and follow Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit, their goal had become...to fit in. To be accepted as part of Sardis society. To be popular.
They were active...they apparently had church programs and church meetings...but apparently, this did NOT equate to having Spiritual LIFE!
According to J. Hampton Keathley, "So, in the very next words, we see a rude awakening and reality:
We see that they had a name, a reputation—what men thought.
We see they were alive, that is, they were an active church full of programs and church activity—what men see.
But, regardless, they were dead, without true spiritual vitality—what the Lord saw and knew.
The point is they had a reputation, they were known far and wide, and they were active, filled with activity, action, and programs, just like a great deal of the church today all across America. By the world’s standards they were successful and they were probably proud of their church, but our Lord says not so, “you are dead.”
Our churches face a similar problem...we may have numbers, activities, buildings...but do we have LIFE?
They faced similar pressures to us...their society was hostile toward them, and did not believe what they believed. Thier culture looked down on them, and considered them strange.
...and so they comprimised. They adapted to the world. They 'bought in' to the mindset, values, beliefs and customs of the world, instead of being transformed by God's Spirit (see Romans 12:1-2).
Interestingly, they continued to go to church! They continued to have religious activity! Yet, because they weren't paying attention to threats from the outside (and from within), their life slipped away without them knowing it.
But all hope was not lost...
4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
There were some real believers there...some who really did have Spiritual Life within...some for whom the 'activities' really were 'SPIRTUALLY based' and motivated toward God's glory and following Jesus while representing Him on earth.
For them, the encouragement was to continue...Don't "soil your garments" (compromise with the world around). Instead, continue to live out your victory! Live from a position of power, connected to--and obedient to--the Spirit and the Word of God!
If they did--and if we do--they would be "clothed in white". They would be victorious and holy.
What is the goal of the Church today? Is it to 'fit in'? Is it to 'attract a crowd'? Is it to be 'busy'? NO!
Rather, the Church today (as always) is to glorify God, follow Jesus, and live in step with the Holy Spirit.
Otherwise, make no mistake...the Church that compromises...like Sardis... WILL die!
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches."
May God help US--You and I--to 'hear'!