There are a lot of Sardis Christians and churches today. There always have been, wherever Christians are willing to compromise with the culture of the day. It’s not so easy to be a Sardis Christian when you’re busy being persecuted, but in times of peace and especially at times when Christianity is identified with the dominant culture, it’s easy.
What is a Sardis church or Christian? One who looks alive but is really dead. There are many such churches today. I know you’ve seen some of them. They’re the ones with parking lots full of cars, who always seem to have something going on, and to which the right kind of people go. They’re the ones from whose pulpit the minister preaches from today’s headlines or self-help books, with a few generic Bible allusions scattered throughout.
They’re the Christians who claim the name of Christ but who rarely crack open their Bibles or fall on their knees. God is not in all their thoughts, and they make decisions in life based on self-interest, intuition, or their secular education. They have a general sense that there should be justice, often mandated by the state instead of freely given by loving hearts, and they know that all of us should get along and not state any exclusive claims that might break the bonds of human brotherhood.
It is, frankly, what a lot of the churches and Christians in America have looked like for a long time. It’s been easy, until recently, in America to say you’re a Christian. It’s something that was just assumed.
But Jesus Christ is coming soon to a church near you. He will not let us have our illusions about being for Him and for our culture at the same time but will come to us and disabuse us of our delusions. Before He comes, however, He thinks it only fair that He gives us ample warning. So here it is: Jesus Christ is coming!
Rome didn’t fall in a day, and neither will you or the church you go to. But often there are things in our lives that are amiss. There are compromises we make with the world, and sometimes these take on a life of their own and crowd out our life in Christ. Sometimes we drift away, day by day, and never notice that we have left our first love for Christ.
Sardis was built on a mountain, and an impregnable acropolis was built on this mountain. But twice in the city’s history it had forgotten to be watchful and was captured by its enemies. Neither Sardis nor you are as impregnable as they think they are.
It’s never too late, though. Today is the day to be watchful. Take a snapshot of your life today. What do you see? Where are you in your life with Christ, and more importantly, which direction are you facing and going? Strengthen the things that remain. Unless you’ve totally given up on Christ, there are still embers of the spiritual life glowing within you.
Remember the things you did that once gave you life in Christ and strengthened you. Maybe it was your prayer life, or your meditations on the living Word of God. Maybe it was godly Christian fellowship, or a time of reflecting on your life and its decisions in the light of Jesus Christ. Hold fast to what is good, and repent of what is not.
Jesus ends his letter to the church of Sardis and to you today by promising again to bless those who persevere. If you overcome, if you persevere in following Jesus Christ, the one who has overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, then you will be clothed in white. You will be one of those luminous beings who joyfully serve the Lord in heaven- not angels, but transfigured men and women.
You will be someone who Jesus Himself confesses before His Father and the angels. “Here is _______________ (fill in your name), my good and faithful servant. (S)he persevered in following me, despite the distractions and sufferings of the world, and I delight in him (her).”
The truth is that Jesus is already in heaven, interceding before the Father for us. What would you like Him to be able to say about you to the Father? Keep that picture in your mind and heart today that it may guide you into holding fast to what is good and repenting from what is evil.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Prayer: O Lord, whose mercy and love never fail, I ask that today you would strengthen my love for and faith in you. Purge from me all that makes bargains with or is seduced by the world and strengthen all within me all that desires to serve You. Jesus, plead for me before the Father; Spirit interpret my groans and desires that I may be heard. Lord, I believe: help my unbelief! Amen.
Point for Meditation:
1. If Jesus were to suddenly appear in your life, what thoughts would immediately rush through your mind?
2. In what ways may you have compromised with our culture?
Resolution: I resolve to keep before me today the knowledge that Jesus Christ is interceding at the right hand of the Father for me.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day