Revelations 3:1-6 God has not called the church to be big and vibrant, but to be complete
Revelations 3:1-6 God has not called the church to be big and vibrant, but to be complete
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things (those) that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and 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.’
The church in Sardis appears big and vibrant, but it is hollow and immature. Even though they appear pious and alive in public, but in private, they are walking in darkness. It is inconceivable that such a big and vibrant church can be considered dead in the sight of God. The problem lies in the lack of spiritual leadership at the very top. If the leader is preoccupied with looking big and alive, he will steer the entire church into sustaining the reputation of being alive. It is time for the church to repent and rediscover God’s vision and mandate. Jesus builds His church by discipling the twelve towards maturity before sending them out. Today’s devotion teaches us that God has not called the church to be big and vibrant, but to be complete.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this:
The seven Spirits are highly ascended beings who ruled the universe with Christ. They are creatures that have been perfected through tribulations and are worthy and complete to sit with Christ. The seven stars are archangels, heads of angelic forces who stand guard over the churches.
‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Christ knows the conduct of the church in Sardis. They have a reputation, an appearance of being big and alive but are actually dead. The church in Sardis is like a big tree that is full of leaves but no fruit. Although it is physically alive, it does not serve the purpose of the farmer. Therefore, it is better to have it cut down than use up the soil. God is not looking for a church that is full of leaves but does not bear fruit. The church at the time of Jesus appears to be alive with observance of feasts and offerings and teachings of scripture. But it does not bear the fruit of love or the power of God to heal the sick and lead people towards maturity (complete).
Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.
Christ calls the church to wake up for they have been asleep and ignorant of their morbidity. They are to strengthen those that remain who are on the brink of death. What is the sin of the church in Sardis? Christ finds their deeds incomplete in the sight of God. Christ is not speaking of perfect behaviour but rather the perfection of heart. In other words, sincere love for God and for fellow men. For many of them participate in charitable acts thinking they can gain divine favour for themselves. Such may bring an appearance of vibrancy in the sight of the world, but because their motives are wrong, they are considered dead in the sight of God.
Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
The unexpectedness of the coming of the Day of the Lord is compared to the unexpected arrival of a thief. One who is asleep will not be able to protect himself from the thief. The thief will come at an unexpected time and plunder his house. But one who is not asleep, who is perfect at heart will be awake and not let the burglar break into his house. The key is not to foretell when the thief will be coming, but to be consistently awake and perfect at heart.
But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
Those who are asleep, who have an appearance of life but are dead and incomplete at heart will walk in the mud and soil their garments. Those who work for the purpose of personal gain will find fulfilment through acts of selfishness, hate, greed and sensuality. However, those who are perfect at heart, who hold fast to love and righteousness will be counted as worthy before God. Such will be dressed in white to walk with Christ.
He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and 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.’
What does he need to overcome? He needs to overcome the culture of falsity and hypocrisy. To name oneself as alive and yet dead is hypocrisy. To present oneself as complete only to be found incomplete is falsity. To overcome is not to compromise one’s position and at the same time demonstrate what it means to be truly alive and complete. The book of life contains the names of those who are worthy of the abundant life; the God-kind of life. Not only will Christ not erase his name from the book of life, Christ will vouch for him before God.
God has not called the church to be big and vibrant, but to be complete
Many believers today are likened to the believers in Sardis. They suppose by verbally confessing Christ as Lord, by studying scripture, by participating zealously in various church ministries, they are considered as complete in God’s eyes. Some even look down on people of other religions thinking they alone possess the key to eternal life. The fact is God judges not our achievements or what we know but the state of our hearts. And He rewards all who serve out of love and purity regardless of their abilities and religious affiliations. Paul said,
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:2-3
While anyone can tell if a person makes great sacrifices and possesses unusual knowledge, faith, and abilities, only the Spirit can reveal the motives of his heart. Indeed, many will be confounded when Christ returns to find them dead and their works incomplete.
Rediscovering God’s vision and mandate for the church.
What must the church do to turn around and strengthen those who are on the brink of death? The church must rediscover God’s vision and mandate. God has not called the church to pack the halls but to disciple every individual towards the maturity of Christ. To be mature is to be infinitely loving, wise and powerful as Christ is. To make a crude comparison, if Jesus takes three full years with the twelve to disciple them daily, that will take us 21 years (if we meet our disciples one day per week). What I am say is: it takes time to disciple a believer towards maturity. The aim of discipleship is to help the disciple transform his mindset, break his bondages and free him from the major problems of life. In the course of discipleship, he acquires the ability to commune with God clearly and exercise divine authority over his circumstances. That said, where can we find the men and women of God who are qualified and willing to disciple others?
Discipleship begins with the leader of the church
While most church leaders will agree and stand by this statement, but the reality is far from it. There are just too many distractions keeping ministers from doing what is truly important. It is a fact that most ministers cannot find the time to meditate on the scripture, commune with God and develop their spiritual senses and gifts. Even as the flock look to them for spiritual direction, their spirituality do not differ much from that of their flock. Hence, their teachings cannot deliver the desired impact; they are either too academic or too elementary appealing to the people’s desire for material blessings.
Therefore, the congregation must release their ministers from the work of administration and general management of the church. So that they may commit their time to the ministry of the word and to prayer (see Acts 6:4). In so doing, they become oracles through which God reveals His future plans. They provide divine wisdom through which the people’s problems are solved. They become vessels through which the people are healed of their sicknesses and curses. They become the light that enlightens the world to understand the word of God. Only when ministers spend time seeking the things above, can they stay ahead of the flock and lead them towards maturity (complete).
If you do not yet have a spiritual mentor, ask God to give you a disciple maker who can help you progress towards maturity. If you already have a spiritual mentor, be faithful to him/her by becoming a mentor to another.
Dear Lord, I ask you to provide a spiritual mentor to help me progress and overcome the issues in my life. Help me acquire the love, wisdom and authority of Christ so that I may be complete and lacking in nothing. Then, I can truly say that Christ in me the hope of glory! In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.