SARDIS THE CHURCH OF THE DEAD

REV. 3:1‑6
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
“[SARR dis]‑‑ the capital city of Lydia in the province of Asia, in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  Sardis was situated on the east bank of the Pactolus River about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Smyrna; it occupied a rocky spur of Mount Tmolus and a valley at the foot of this mountain. In ancient times Sardis was well fortified and easily defended. It became the capital of the ancient Lydian empire, then passed successively to the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans during their respective dominance of the ancient world. During its days as a Roman city, Sardis became an important Christian centre. However, the church at Sardis was evidently affected by the complacency of the city and its reliance on past glory: “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” . Sardis, the dead church, was like “whitewashed tombs which… appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones” . Its thriving, healthy appearance masked an inner decay. (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers) “Its position on a natural citadel above the rich valley of the Hermus was a reminder of past greatness. The church in Sardis apparently also lived on its past…”  (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas  p 384)
COMPLACENCY: self‑centeredness; self‑satisfied; false security; indifference; unconcerned. A Biblical example of complacency is Lot: complacency leads to a lack of concern, and eventually severe inactivity and this is evident in most churches today! Is this characteristic of your spiritual life? Do you feel that there is nothing needed to stimulate your spiritual life? It is the attitude of some believers that they do not need to meet with other believers on a regular basis, and this attitude is wrong for we do need fellowship with each other so that we can be encouraged in our spiritual life . Let us not be the type of believer that “lives in the past” , holding on to the good and great accomplishments, let us remember that time and people change so we need to change our methods and approach in our outreach to our neighbours and friends (NOTE: we do NOT change the doctrine). Churches don’t suffer from a bad reputation‑‑ they don’t have any reputation at all!The church is seen as irrelevant…. to everyday life… In general, churches have not found meaningful ways to minister to the growing ethnic population…….. ignoring the tremendous need and opportunity to reach young people for Christ” (What’s Ahead For The Church?” by Ron Sellers. Ministries Today, Jan/Feb 1991. Pages 64‑67.)
“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” The accusation here is that they were not meeting the needs of the growing and changing population, so the Church is called upon to address the condition or there will be a complete “death” to their responsibility.
As Jesus’ disciples today we need to be challenged even as His disciples were by the events and teachings of Lk. 9 :49‑62. (1)Jesus takes exception to our understanding of the type of people who are really committed to Him.  John thought the man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name should be rebuked because he was not one of their group . We, too, often see commitment in terms of membership the right group, but Jesus can work through anyone who makes himself available to Him.  So the question is, “Am I that kind of person?” (2) The prejudiced disciples thought Jesus should call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans.  In the same way, we would often like to wash our hands of unresponsive people, but that is not consistent with Christ’s love. . (3) Jesus expects our commitment to be realistic. (4)Jesus will not allow us to use family responsibilities as an excuse….Yet we must realize that “diluted discipleship is not good for our families.”  (5) Jesus doesn’t expect us to give up anything that’s really worth keeping.  We must quit longing for what we used to have.” (by Dick Dowsett.  Decision, Sep 1991.  Pages 25‑ 26.) The Church is called upon to look forward to new responsibilities, being available to Christ and so fulfill the mission to their community.
“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. 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. Overcoming their sin of complacency was required for the Church at Sardis and for all those today who find themselves in a similar condition; even though you may be “dead” you can find new life in Christ, worthy to be “dressed in white” and claim the promise of not being “blotted out” from the book of life.
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