“I know your deeds; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!” Revelation 3:1b-2b
Jesus seems to be accusing the church of Sardis of sleepwalking. Activity or busyness has earned them a good reputation among people, but Jesus who sees the heart said they were without spiritual life. They were not only dead, but also asleep to this fact. So Jesus sounds a spiritual alarm clock to waken them and get their spiritual heads and hearts in the game. And though this was a specific warning to the church of Sardis, Jesus ends the passage by saying, ”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:6). So it can serve as a warning to all believers and churches throughout history to guard against falling asleep, and being spiritually irrelevant.
Sardis was a wealthy community. In the ease of life, had they lost their dependence on God and His life giving power? Were they distracted by busyness so that their hearts stopped beating for the things of God? This city was also a center of pagan worship. Possibly they were desensitized to sin and tolerated it. Had their witness and message become lifeless because they didn’t look any different than the world around them? Had they tried to be relevant by bringing current culture into the church rather than bringing the church into the culture? The Bible does not give us the specifics, but whatever the cause, in Jesus’ eyes they were spiritually dead. So where, in spite of our many activities, might God consider us spiritually dead or irrelevant? Are we bringing God’s Word and Christ’s image into the issues of our communities and the world and showing them a different and better way because we are spiritually alive in Christ? Or have we hit the snooze button, continuing unaware of our spiritual condition, lacking in the Holy Spirit’s power and having little or no effect of eternal value?
Jesus warns that if we don’t wake up, He will come like a thief and we will not know when (13:3). He connects the need to “keep watch” or “wake up” to the uncertain timing of His certain return. In the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13, even the wise, prepared virgins became drowsy and fell asleep while waiting for the return of the bridegroom. Might things have turned out differently for the foolish virgins had the wise ones remained awake and watchful? Has the assurance of our own salvation caused us to become complacent and lazy and lose the urgency to share the gospel with others? Jesus wants us to have that urgency because time is short, not for Him, but for us because no one is promised tomorrow. When He returns, the time for us to share the gospel for others’ eternal salvation will be gone. Jesus also connects watchfulness to prayer in Matthew 26:41, Luke 21:36 and 1 Peter 4:7. So let’s pray and ask The One who never sleeps nor slumbers for His wake up call.
Prayer: Dear Lord, Forgive us when we fall asleep on the job. You don’t ever sleep or slumber, so wake us up to join you in your work! Keep us from complacency and laziness in our faith. Search our hearts and reveal where we are spiritually dead. Help us to watch and pray, not just for ourselves but also for our churches, our communities and all those you have entrusted to our care. Father, the only way we can know what we’re watching for is through your Word. So renew in us a desire to know your Word. Don’t let those of us who have received your salvation and an invitation to your wedding feast fall asleep when there is work to be done to extend your invitation to those who do not yet know you. In the, life-giving, never-sleeping name of Jesus. Amen.