To the church in Sardis
“Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes” (Revelation 3:4). What a striking phrase to be spoken to a congregation such as Sardis. Unlike the other congregations Jesus addresses – with the exception of Laodicea – he doesn’t mention any type of immorality or false teaching plaguing the congregation. Despite not having any problems to speak of, this congregation was dying.
We can envision what it would be like if our congregation wasn’t suffering from any types of “setbacks.” We might imagine that life would be better without so much stress. We even might think we can take ministry easy. However, as long as we live on this earth our enemy the devil will continue to roam and roar seeking to lead God’s people astray. He not only attacks us when we are facing adversity, but also when life is good, and it is at these times when he might cause the most damage.
The church in Sardis responded to internal peace with indifference to the Word of God. On the outside they looked healthy because they were not facing troubles, but inside they were not. They needed to return to the Word and repent. When we are not facing trouble of any kind it is easy for us to let down our guard. When we are hurting or suffering, we run to our God and his Word for healing and help. But after we receive the healing and help we need, we might be tempted to think that we don’t need to feed our souls.
Our members might think it is okay to skip church every now and then because everything is fine. Your pastors are shepherds sent to guard against the wolves, and yet they might think that the families that are not going through as much as others don’t need to be checked upon since they are not carrying any noticeable “crosses.”
This Sunday’s lesson from Revelation 3 serves as a warning for all of God’s people to always keep watch, especially when life is going well. We must continue to drown our Old Adam by repenting of our sins so that we don’t become indifferent or apathetic to what God tells us in his Word. Pastors must always be equipping their people to resist the devil, not only when his attacks seem obvious, but also when he is working behind the scenes.
This text closes with the comforting assurance that those who belong to God will never be wiped out of the “Book of Life.” Through Jesus’ work we hold on to this truth. Through God’s Word we will remain ready to face
the devil’s attempts to destroy the flock of God. May our ears always be ready to hear what the Spirit teaches!