Summary: The church at Sardis had become arrogant and thus comfortable with their ’church.’ The result was compacency, apathy, and death. This should be a warning for churches today.
The Comfortable Church
* Having read about this church and preached this text many times, I have labored over the proper name for this church. Terms like dead, decaying, or dying, as well as confused, contented, or cozy, were tops on my list. However, comfortable is the description used by others, it is the word which I have used in days past, and it is the description which we will use today. Whatever term you choose to use for the church at Sardis, it is indeed a sad state of affairs.
* In Matthew 16, Jesus tells His disciples that He will build HIS church which will be strong enough to overpower the very gates of hell. He goes on to intimate that His church will possess to KEYS which are able to bind & loose in heaven & earth. In other words, HIS church is an unstoppable force on earth.
* It serves us well to consider HIS words and comprehend Sardis.
* The city of Sardis was like the USA of today. People were wealthy, the days past were good days, & life seemed good. Among the citizens, there existed an arrogance of sorts because of the geographic location of the city itself. Economically, militarily, and culturally, the town thought itself to be untouchable so this place exuded self-confidence and self-assurance.
* The church in Sardis, evidently, had become like the community, that is, very successful. It would seem that they had the best programs around, the most wonderful members, and had everything clicking on the same cylinder. It is in these times that we, as God’s people, are the most vulnerable. When we think things are good and right, it is easy to get comfortable and rest on our laurels.
* In numerous places within the Bible where we are told that God will comfort us, but no place in God’s word does He promise us to be comfortable. He knows that when anyone gets comfortable they get listless, apathetic, and ultimately go to sleep. This is both a spiritual & physical truth. God has called us to be a part of the redemption process which places us in harm’s way because the process of redemption is like the show ‘Intervention.’ To be a part of the Work of God’s Kingdom is to become a spiritual warrior not wimp.
* I believe it was in Rocky III that Apollo Creed, an old boxer, told Rocky Balboa to not lose the eye of the tiger which was to say, ‘don’t lose your focus.’ When God’s people lose passion for Him, this is what happens, we lose our focus.
* This is what happened to the church at Sardis and is exactly what is happening in the American church today. Consider two thought for this church.
1. God’s Indictment – To indict is to accuse of a fault, an offense, or a crime. Unlike us, God minces no words, but lays it out straightforward.
a. The Confusion in the Church – Nothing is more dangerous than confusion & particularly confusion in the midst of a battle or even confused about ‘being’ in a battle. God’s church is in a battle for the souls of people. We get confused about what we are doing. Are we focused on building a church for our grandparents or our grandchildren? Do we sense this eternal battle?
* The church in Sardis was confused about a number of things. They were confused about their guidelines, their goal, and their god. Their guidelines had obviously become something other than the words of God through the Apostles, their goal had seemingly been to be accepted in the community, and their god had become to have the right reputation. Interestingly, they think they are doing pretty good. In fact, they had the opinion that they were “THE CHURCH” & they were good!
* Jesus had another opinion. Generally, opinions are like thumbs, everybody has one, but let us never forget that the authentic church is HIS. He is the one who charts the course, He is the one who sets the standard, and He is the one who judges the church. The confusion at Sardis, like many churches today is this: Whose church is it? What is the correct scorecard for it?
* Once when umpire Babe Pinelli called Babe Ruth out on strikes, Ruth made a populist argument. Ruth reasoned fallaciously (as populists do) from raw numbers to moral weight: ‘There’s 40,000 people here who know that last one was a ball, tomato head.’ "Pinelli replied with the measured stateliness of John Marshall: ‘Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts.” As the umpire, when Pinelli spoke, it was law & there was no confusion. It is the same in the church when God speaks! There is no confusion. Hear Him give;