Summary: Life was pretty good in Sardis. The lack of opposition may have given them a sense of security and lulled them to sleep. Since the world was relatively nice to them, they may have grown comfortable in their relationship with the pagan world around them.
Waking Up Is Hard to Do
Revelation 3:1-6 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Intro: Have you ever been so tired that you really had a hard time waking up when you needed to? I can remember working in the woods as a teenager. We were getting up around 3AM to get out in the woods at first light so we could beat the heat and get out of the woods by 1. I was only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep so I’d take a nap when I got home. Well, during one of those naps my Uncle Bob from WV showed up and wanted to say hi to me. I vaguely remember him saying hi and laughing at me. I was so drugged from sleep that I couldn’t hardly talk. Sometimes waking up is hard to do.
-Well, the church in Sardis seemed to have the same kind of problem. Life was pretty good in Sardis. For the most part, Christians got along with the Jews. And both Jews and Christians seemed to get along with the rest of society – perhaps a little too well. The lack of opposition from the world around them may have given them a sense of security and lulled them to sleep. Since the world was relatively nice to them, they may have grown quite comfortable in their relationship with the pagan world around them. Herodotus, the historian, records that over the course of many years the church in Sardis had acquired a reputation for lax moral standards. Whatever the case, when we read their mail, we find that their way of living was unsatisfactory to the Lord. Some changes would have to be made!
1. The Reality
-This church was characterized by spiritual lifelessness. They were spiritually dead or dying as a church. Jesus said, “I know your deeds, and they are lacking, incomplete.” As a church of people who claimed to be followers of Christ, they were not doing what a living church would do. Something was missing! Obedience, faith, holy living, etc. Jesus said, “People think you’re alive, but you are not acting like it!”
-Now, before we get too far, let me say that Jesus wasn’t saying, “Hey! You’re acting dead. Start acting like you’re alive!” No, the reality is that they really were missing the power of the life of God. Somehow, they had become disconnected or distant from the life of God. How does such a thing happen? How can people who have called on God in repentance and who have received His forgiveness and newness of life drift away from Him?
-In his book, Harvest of Humanity, John Seamands told this story: "A German soldier was wounded. He was told to go to the military hospital for treatment. When he arrived at a large and imposing building, he saw two doors, one marked, "For the slightly wounded" and the other, "For the seriously wounded."
He entered through the first door and found himself going down a long hall. At the end of it were two more doors, one marked "For officers" and the other "For non-officers." He entered through the latter and found himself going down another long hall. At the end of it were two more doors, one marked, "For party members" the other, "For non-party members." He took the second door, and when he opened it, he found himself out on the street.
When the soldier returned home, his mother asked him, "How did things go at the hospital?"
"Well, Mother" he replied, "to tell the truth, the people there didn’t do anything for me, but you ought to see the tremendous organization they have!"
-Many churches have great organization. Their people are busy. But unless the Spirit of God is free to work through them, the church’s ministry is earthy, not heavenly. The church at Sardis was well organized, but dead.