seven letters  sardis part II

"Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent" (Revelation 3:2-3a NIV).

As we continue with our look at Jesus' message to the church at Sardis, let's start by checking out the important things that Jesus says in the verses quoted above. For example, the first thing that Jesus tells these Christians to do is to "remember." Now if Jesus tells them to "remember" then it can only mean that they had forgotten something, right? OK, so what had they forgotten? 

Well, Jesus told them that they needed to remember what they had "received and heard." Alright... so what had they received and heard? Well, "what they received and heard" can only refer to the Bible and it's teachings. You see, these people were going to church and keeping up the outward appearances of religion but inwardly they were almost dead. Because of this, they needed to "get back to basics" and re-establish a living relationship with God by getting to know Him again through His Word.

Unfortunately, this same thing can also happen to people today. For instance, the person who never reads their Bible outside of church is surely heading for the same kind of trouble that the church at Sardis got itself into. The reason for this is easy: When someone steps out of church, they step into a world that has no use for it's Creator and is filled with people who choose to live as if God did not exist. Because of this, Christians are always under pressure to take on that same kind of attitude. It's always easier to "go with the flow" of a world that isn't interested in God and if you aren't spending some time with God through His Word each day then it's sure to affect your internal relationship with Him -just like those people in Sardis. 

You want an illustration? OK, here you go: Back when he was a youth, The Doctor once went to a large ocean beach to spend the afternoon. He spread his blanket on the sand near a lifeguard and then went into the ocean for a swim. After swimming around and body surfing for a while, he decided to go back to his blanket to hang out and work on his tan. He spotted the lifeguard and then went back to find his blanket- but his blanket wasn't there. The Doctor then noticed that he didn't recognize any of the people who were near him when he first came to beach. He then took a closer look at the lifeguard and suddenly realized that it wasn't the same lifeguard either! 

Something was seriously wrong and after taking some time to ponder the situation, The Doctor suddenly understood what had happened. You see, while Young Doctor was out in the water, the ocean currents started to take him further and further down the shoreline without him even realizing it! In fact, the currents had taken him so far away from where he originally started that he finally ended up two lifeguard stations away from where he began! So after a long walk back down the beach, The Doctor was finally able to find his blanket again and commence working on his incredible tan. 

So what does this little adventure have to do with what we've been talking about? Well, that's easy: Do you know what someone has to do to drift off course in their relationship with God? The answer is usually nothing! Once someone begins to neglect their relationship with God then it's easy to start drifting off with the current of a world that isn't interested in Him. People usually don't intend to wander away from God like this- it just sort of happens and pretty soon those same people find themselves halfway down the spiritual beach looking for their blanket before they know it. This is kind of like what happened to the church at Sardis- they had the reputation of being great Christians but they forgot what they knew about God through His Word and eventually drifted away from Him.

Of course, staying close to God through His Word isn't just a good idea- there's a price to pay if you don't... 

"But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you" (Revelation 3:3b NIV).

Man, that's not a place where you want to be. This reminds The Doctor of something else that Jesus once said in the Gospel of Matthew, 24:43-51... 

"Know this: A homeowner who knew exactly when a burglar was coming would stay alert and not permit the house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected. Who is a faithful, sensible servant, to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family? If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 

I assure you, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. But if the servant is evil and thinks, 'My master won't be back for a while,' and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk- well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

History records that there were at least two occasions when Sardis was invaded and taken over. One invasion was led by a man named Cyrus, the leader of the Medio-Persian Empire and the second was led by Alexander the Great. Even though Sardis was located in place that was difficult to invade, the city was captured both times because the people who were supposed to keep watch over the city failed to guard their posts. Because these watchmen weren't watching, the enemy was able to sneak in without being noticed- and the same kind of thing can happen spiritually to those who neglect their relationship with God!


The Doctor is not a real doctor but he plays one on the Internet. E-Mail prescriptions are also available on an individual basis.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptural references taken from The Living Bible, 1971, Tyndale House Publishers

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