Dead or Alive?

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God…” 

This passage of Scripture from Revelation 3 strikes fear deep in my heart. The Lord has given us His word for several reasons: so we can know Him, so we can know His wonderful gift of grace, so we can be instructed in His ways, and so we can be awakened from our slumber and warned of judgment to come. In this passage, God clearly warns us of being complete in Him. 

So, the church in Sardis had a great name, or reputation. I can only compare it to today, but this church must have been the envy of the other churches. Perhaps they were planting lots of churches or establishing many satellite campuses. Maybe they had the best praise band. Perhaps their brand-new 2500 seat worship center was filled to capacity in five services over the weekend. Whatever the cultural markers of “life” were, the church at Sardis checked the right blocks. 

All except for one. They failed to check the block of pleasing the only One who mattered. In spite of all their seeming successes, the Lord Jesus said that they were, in fact, dead. This reality means that its possible for everyone, including that very church, to think that all is well without all being well. So the whole Christian world says, “Yay! You guys go!” while Jesus says “Wake up! You’re dead and you don’t know it!” This possibility scares me. 

What are the signs of life Jesus looks for in a church? I guess there are really only three: hearts for worship, hands for ministry, and habits of disciple-making. Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples. The great commandment and the great commission. And, it’s not like we can specialize. We must possess all three as a church, and as individuals. 

This means that much of what modern-day churches are trying to accomplish aren’t really a part of our purposes. It also means that the Southern Baptist Convention might recognize us as a great church and yet we still may be dead. All around us, folks might say  “That church is alive!” and it just may not be true. 

If you have an ear, you better hear.
In Him,
Pastor Jim