We all want to hear praise from our Lord. We want to be on His good side. We certainly don’t want to hear a rebuke from Him. But we can get so tuned in to only wanting to hear His praise that we don’t listen to His warnings. We may even mislead ourselves into thinking we’re doing okay, when in reality we aren’t. Such was the case with the church in Sardis:
“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 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. – Revelation 3:1-4, NASB
The church in Sardis was still alive, but barely. Christ’s warning to them was to take that remnant and strengthen it. For that remnant was in severe danger of dying out. The church in Sardis was weak. Those who truly believed in Christ were few in number and growing fewer each day. For those who thought the church was okay, Jesus has a completely different message. He tells them that their deeds weren’t complete. He tells them they have not kept to what they have been told to follow: His teachings. And since they weren’t following Christ’s teachings, they needed to turn from what they were doing and back to what they knew was right. Interestingly enough, Christ describes them as asleep, though. He’s asking them to wake up before it’s too late.
Think about that for a second. Are we asleep? That’s what a lot of folks say today about the church in America and the church in Western Europe. The warning to Sardis was that Christ would come like a thief in the night and that would be it. The church would be done. Christ would remember those who walked with Him, but the rest of the church would be history. That same warning applies to us today. Those of us in the church who are trying to walk by faith, we must strengthen the remnant. Actually, this should be our goal all the time. After all, isn’t this our calling?
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20, NASB
For those who are new in the faith, we’re supposed to make them disciples. As we go into the nations, we’re supposed to bring up new people to be disciples, and that means presenting the Gospel. And this is supposed to happen wherever we are, whether it be a country on the other side of the globe or right here at home. So what Christ was asking of the church in Sardis wasn’t anything different than what He had already asked of His Church. He was just reminding them of what they signed on to. And the same is true of us. When we agreed to follow Christ, we agreed to this command of us, which we call the Great Commandment. By the way, in order to make disciples, we must first be disciples, so that means we’re supposed to strive to be His disciples, introduce others to the Gospel, and for those who accept Christ, teach them His ways so that they will be disciples, too.