Wikipedia states that "Sardis was an ancient city at the location of modern day Sart, in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times."
We find the address by the Angel to John in Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV):
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
I have written a previous Blog on Soiling your garments, but for this piece of writing I wish to focus on one phrase: "You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead." There is so much that we can meditate on with just that passage, so allow me to briefly elaborate in hopes that I do not do this passage an injustice.
I have often found myself wondering if this church was one like so many churches here in America. You can walk in their doors and finds stacks of dusty Bibles and Hymnals that aren't being utilized. To take it one step further, maybe it mirrors what our own Bedrooms and Living Rooms look like, bookshelves with Bibles on them that haven't been picked up for quite some time. In my travels around the country I am intrigued at what I see. While in Los Angeles a few months ago, I didn't see a single church building. In my travels through Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, you will find two church buildings in every holler and hilltop. Even with that being said, I can't say that His Bride is always awakened out of the sinful curse of Apathy and Complacency.
So in breaking down this verse even more, I have realized something further. This church in Sardis was not as dead as a door nail from the outside looking in. It had the "Reputation" of being alive. From the outside it was thriving with all kinds of events. Maybe it had a kicking praise team that rocked the house. Or quite possible it had the top youth group that drew in the majority of the youth from the surrounding communities. I would venture to say that its childrens program was top shelf with all kinds of drama's. This is on top of the Men's and Women's ministries, and all of the events that they put on throughout the year. Jesus did not hesitate to say however, that they were dead. He says that He has not found their works complete in the sight of God!
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. Everything that I have listed above is Great, if it is done through the Holy Spirit's divine power, and we are instruments that He works through in order for His ministry to take place. However, if we are just putting on a show of what we are interpreting as Majestic proportion, then we need to take a step back in honest evaluation of who the King of our life is that we are sitting at the feet of in worship.
My friends, may we all evaluate our relationship in the Body of Christ, and whether or not we have soiled our garments. May the things that we do and the worship that we raise be a sweet incense in His nostrils. Otherwise...we are members of a church that he says is DEAD. He says that those in Sardis that are faithful and have not soiled their garments will walk with Him, because they are Worthy. May we all humbly evaluate our lives and evaluate our walk with Jesus as Followers of His. I write this out of Love and concern, and not judgement, and pray that it is received in the way in which it was intended.