By Michael Julian
Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Kenton
Focal Passage: Revelation 3:1-6
Welcome to sleepy Sardis. This city was known to have natural defenses that seemed impenetrable by invading forces. In fact, the thought of capturing Sardis was equated with the impossible. But, things are not always what they seem.
Sardis developed a huge blindspot because of its natural setting. Thus, the armies of Sardis paid little attention to a certain area surrounding the city. Her enemies eventually discovered the weakness. Their complacency proved to be the beginning of their downfall. And so it can be with us. Complacency lulls us into a false confidence, one that can be easily exposed.
The Lord again displays His perfect knowledge of His church. Does that resonate any? In the case of sleepy, complacent Sardis, there is nothing to commend. Listen brothers and sisters, the Lord intimately knows the works and deeds of His church. Nothing is done behind closed doors apart from Christ’s knowledge. How would your church react to the Lord corresponding with you by calling you dead?
Perhaps we would go into defense mode and begin to mention all the ways we believe we are alive. Or we might call upon those on the outside who see our busyness or activity to testify that we are truly among the living. But never forget that the realm of the heart uniquely belongs to God. It is His to judge, know, or refine. In light of that knowledge, logically the Lord Jesus calls out to Sardis to wake up! You still have work to do. Better yet, I still have work to do in you, for you, and through you. The time to change was upon them. Procrastination, which often accompanies complacency, would be their worst enemy. When God expects urgency, don’t respond with laxity.
What do dead, dying, or decaying churches have in common? Abandonment. No, I don’t mean abandonment by God, but I mean the abandonment of the living, active, abiding Word of God. Somewhere they began to listen to the philosophers of the day, or false teachers with flashy presentations, or big personalities espousing empty banalities. They were no longer beholden to the truth.
This is why Jesus calls dead Sardis to remember the gospel and the teachings of the apostles. They must recall the atoning work of Jesus upon the cross. As such, they should be led to humble and genuine repentance. The stakes could not be any higher for Sardis. What about us?
Any time in Scripture you come across the conjunction “but,” you should pay it the strictest attention. Consider Ephesians 2:4. Consider Matthew 5:22 and other similar verses in the Sermon on the Mount. Look closely in our text.
The Lord changes His tone for a moment. While this is not a commendation, it does highlight there was a faithful remnant in Sardis. And to these overcomers, the Lord again provides a comforting promise. How wonderful to know that we as believers are dressed in robes of righteousness. But, it is not our righteousness. It is Christ’s.
Listen up church! Your permanent status as a child of God is written in His blood in His book. Wake up and be the church God desires.