Summary: 5th in a series on the seven Churches in Revelation. Looking at characteristics that help us have a positive presence in our community and in our church.
INTRODUCTION: Today our study brings us to the church of Sardis. A church that has no commendation from the Lord, and from the very onset of the passage, you can here the dire situation this church faces. Yet there is a rich amount of practical material for our own walk with Christ in these verses!
The church here in Sardis seems, by all accounts to have escaped any persecution. Perhaps this is due to the seemingly close association between the church and the idolatry that was so much a part of the city. Archeological discoveries, have unearthed the church of Sardis right next to the temple of Artemis – a female deity, reported to be the “mother of all living”. Some have noted that the two cities receiving the harshest condemnation, today remain uninhabited.
Sardis had no growth, because it had no persecution, nothing to propel it forward!
Arnold Palmer once said, “It’s not how you drive. It’s how you arrive.” What he meant was that the finish is more important than the beginning when one is playing a game of golf. What ultimately counts is not the beauty of the shot, but the strokes it took you to get to the hole.
I LIVING UP TO OUR POTENTIAL
The church of Sardis was being challenged by the Lord to do just that – to focus on the end game, and to do what was necessary to accomplish that type of focus.
The fact that they were “dead” evidenced the fact that they were not living up to their potential, and that their reputation at best was just a shell to the other churches.
We fail to live up to our reputation when we:
A. IGNORE THE POWER BEHIND WHAT WE ARE DOING
2 Tim. 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. “Have a form” means to have an “outward shape”
1. Like the hollow Easter Bunnies – nothing inside
2. Church was doing all the right things, yet denying that God had ANY real power.
WHEN WE GET TO THE POINT THAT WE ARE JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS, THROW THE DIRT ON US NOW – IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME!
B. HAVING A GREATER FOCUS ON WHAT WE DO RATHER THAN WHO WE ARE
1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Coming to church makes us a Christian about as much as going to McDonalds makes us a hamburger!
C. FAIL TO REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR MESSAGE
2 Kings 6:24-30 Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels. 26As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, "Help me, my lord the king!" 27The king replied, "If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?" 28Then he asked her, "What’s the matter?"She answered, "This woman said to me, ’Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ’Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him." 30When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and there, underneath, he had sackcloth on his body.
2 Kings 7:3-4 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, "Why stay here until we die? 4If we say, ’We’ll go into the city’--the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die."
2 Kings 7:8-9 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 9Then they said to each other, "We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace."