“Write to the angel of the church in Sardis:
“The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you.”
Jesus never seems to sugar coat anything. It can be gut wrenching for those who are following Him. What a terrifying thought, “I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead.” Paraphrase: I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. I see you. I know you. You look good on the outside; yet, inside there is the smell of death. And death just has that ring of finality to it, doesn’t it? Oxymoronic truths can be quite disconcerting.
They say one’s reputation precedes them; however, in this case, the reputation is bogus and misleading. This thought humbles me greatly. Is this me, Lord Jesus? Reputation implies that others perceive these believers as alive, fruitful and faithful. Yet, Jesus makes it clear that this perception is not real. Don’t be deceived by our empty culture, perception is not reality. Perception is often the result of deception and does not necessarily reflect who a person or church is. Hopefully, our perception of others reflects reality but there are no guarantees as Lord Jesus illustrates here. Those of Sardis were perceived as alive as illustrated by their works. They were not. They were dead. Jesus sees from the inside out – a truth that we would do well never to forget. When no one else does, Jesus knows us. Scary.
The hope is found in the follow up thought.
Remember and repent while there is still time.
Remember the salvation you have received solely by the gift of God. Remember who you were before He entered your life. Remember who He has made you to be. Remember the power of His Written Revelation, the Holy Scriptures, in your life and the impact His Truth made. Remember that who you are in Him must precede what you do. The motivation for your work must always be His glory.
Repent of the priggish, condemning mindset you have developed toward others. Repent of your selfish self reliance. Turn from the deception of perception and open your heart to God. Repent of your slovenly ways and keep the Word of God. Know the Word of God. Respect and revere the Word of God. Repent of your calloused ears and truly begin to listen to what Lord Jesus is saying. Hear, turn and do. Look to those who have not compromised their faith in this troubled, evil age. Look to them. They are walking faithfully and will be rewarded beyond imagination. Be like them. Live as they live. Imitate them as they imitate Christ.
Open your heart. Remember. Repent. Live. True Life is truly found only in Christ. You know that. Let Him live through you.