Rev. 3:1-6 (NLT)
1“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: 2 “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. 6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
Churches can seem to have lots going on: radio programs, missions programs to promote funding for various projects, raising lots of money, hiring lots of ministerial staff, having pastors who publish lots of their own writings, groups here, there and everywhere. But the think Jesus wants to know about is our faith, and our obedience to his command to 'go and make disciples.' Being highly active in a busy church may not necessarily be obedience. It may rather be just another sort of social fun. The Sardisian church believed their own press that promoted them as a lively church. Jesus writes to alert them that they are, in fact, dead, or nearly so. It is as though their efforts to maintain and extend their reputation was draining the life from their faith, at least those who were making the leadership decisions.
Jesus calls them, and us as well, to 'wake up!' He instructs us to strengthen our faith through submission and surrender to total and complete trust in Christ. He invites us to remember our early days of faith when we laid aside the ways of 'the world' and embraced the ways of The Holy Spirit of God' by following Christ's example. And, he advises all that failure to repent of compromise with the world will bring disappointment at his sudden return-- disappointment because we won't expect it and won't be ready for Him.
Yet there were some in Sardis who were not making such compromises. Jesus assures them that they are well known to Him. His promise to them, and to us who are like them, is that we will be among the victorious in God's presence. Verse 5 points out how the victorious are "clothed in white" representing the purity of Christ within them. He says that they will be formally announced as Christ's honored ones, much in the way that someone at a very posh state dinner announces their names as they enter the room. Are we listening? Do we hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us today in the 21st century?
Your servant in Christ's Love