Letter to Sardis 3
This church had lost its way. It was content to be a religious club instead of enjoying a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. It was asleep to the awesome character of Christ, the glories of heaven, the dangers of hell and the privilege of being in God's kingdom. They were obsessed with themselves and fear of others, having no care for the lost. So Jesus commanded them to wake up. Twice in their history, the citadel of Sardis had been invaded because watchmen were not alert. In the same way, the church was in danger (Revelation 3:1-3).
But some people had stayed true to Jesus. They had not been soiled by the world, flesh or devil. Their life was free from corruption (James 1:27). They were like a bride ready to meet the bridegroom; alert and prepared for Him to come (Revelation 21:2). They were not perfect or sinless, but they trusted in the efficacy of the blood of Jesus (Revelation 7:14). They understood that their obedience mattered (1 Peter 1:2).
However, they had to continue. The victory was not just mastery of daily battles, but a lifetime of persistence in following the Lord. They needed encouragement to keep going, despite the uncertain circumstances. They needed a promise of the Lord's favour. Jesus had said, "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me." (John 12:26). The highest honour was to have their names written in the Lamb's book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15; 21:27). They will be honoured by God and the whole company of heaven.
Today, while the struggle may be most keenly felt where believers are persecuted, the biggest danger to the church is apathy, fear, self-satisfaction and no external perspective to place themselves between Christ's first and second coming. Paradoxically, persecution has a sharpening effect whereas apathy numbs the heart like spiritual sleep. Many churches have the seeds, if not the fruit, of this problem. But let those who seek to walk closely with the Lord be encouraged. And those who do not should be challenged.
© Dr Paul Adams