Message to the church:”And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘ (Revelation 3:1-6)
Description: The people in Sardis “think they are alive, but they are dead.” These are people who think of themselves as good Christians because they go to church, sing worship songs, and say prayers, but whose faith doesn’t actually effect the way they live. There’s a funny thing about Sardis: we all know people who seem to fit this description, but very few of us would put ourselves there. So how do you know if you might be in Sardis? It takes some serious, honest self-reflection as you ask yourself, “What are the practical, tangible ways I live differently than I would without my faith?” If you have trouble answering that, you might be hanging out in Sardis, even if you are a devout churchgoer. And for those of us who aren’t, it’s important to remember that even in Sardis there are some who have not “defiled their garments” – that is, some pious folks who strike us as holier-than-thou really are living genuinely Christian lives.
Call to action: The church in Sardis is called to “strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die.” If you’ve fallen into a pattern of attending church regularly without letting it really challenge you, you start to lose your ability to be reached by the message of the Word at all. But the people in Sardis do have something to their advantage: those acts of worship really can be a place to encounter God and be changed. All you need to do is strengthen them by listening for the truth and finding concrete ways to live it – not just on Sunday morning, but every day.
Promise: Those who overcome will be “clothed in white garments.” White garments are a symbol of living in the truth. It’s not by staying aloof from the world that your garments become clean; it’s actually by living the truth in the real world that your worship becomes more genuine and pure.