Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3522

Jump Start # 3522

Revelation 3:4 “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.”

  The church at Sardis was dead. What the Lord thought about this church and what others were saying about that church didn’t match. They had a name. A great name. Everyone thought that they were alive, but the Lord pulled the sheet over the body of that church. It had flatlined. They were lifeless. However, our verse reminds us that in the midst of that death scene, there were glimpses of life. Some were alive. There was a faithful few that fought death and continued to walk with the Lord.

  The lessons from this section are powerful. How does a church die? Many have died right before our eyes. Many have died decades ago and no one noticed. Some still continue through the motions of worship and activity, but they are long gone.

  First, death requires so little effort. It takes energy, effort, motivation, plans and determination to live. That is true physically and that is true spiritually. Just stop eating and in time, you will die. There was a cranky old family member who was making everyone miserable by their complaining negative spirit. Someone told this old grump, “You don’t have to take your medicine. You can just go and see Jesus.” Dying requires so little effort. Living takes all that we have.

  Second, churches die because error replaces truth. This is happening right before our eyes these days. Walking away from doctrine and believing all that matters is “Jesus,” whatever that means has become the popular tune that too many are listening to these days. A church may have a full parking lot on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they are alive. They may jump up and down, clap their hands, laugh, spill their coffee, and have the time of their lives, but that doesn’t mean that they are alive. Our verse identifies “walking with Me.” That’s the key. When Jesus stops, many keep going. When Jesus turns, many keep going straight. And, to justify themselves, “Look how many followers I have,” or, “Look how filled our pews are.” That’s not the yardstick to use. Walking with Jesus is.

   Third, churches die when members forget who the enemy is. When we turn on one another, and consume each other in criticism and judgmental attitudes, we will quickly die. Shooting the good guys isn’t the answer. The enemy is Satan. We must help each other. The Thessalonians were told to admonish, encourage and help one another. It’s time we made up our minds whose side we are on.

  The story from Sardis reminds us that reputation and character are not the same. Reputation is what people think you are. Character is what you really are. In that time, people thought Sardis was alive. They had a name. Jesus knew the truth. Their character was quite different. They were declared dead.

  The writer, J.R. Miller said, “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a person. What a man is survives him. It can never be buried.” This is why Hebrews pronounces, Abel, though dead, still speaks. Character, that’s what really matters.

  How did the few in Sardis remain alive? They were surrounded by death. Lifeless members attempting to worship the living God. That just doesn’t work. And, for many of our Jump Start readers, what is the answer if you find yourself in a dead church? What can I do?

  Here are some quick thoughts:

  First, you must not allow the death to overtake you. How easy it is to just join everyone else. When we go along with what everyone else is doing, then we become what they are. This means the few in Sardis were active when everyone else was sitting on the sidelines. It means they were still connecting with the Lord, when everyone else had become unplugged. They were growing when everyone else was dying.

  So, you continue to invite people into your home and extend hospitality and encouragement, even though you know that no one will do the same. You do what is right. You continue to teach and teach and teach, even when no one else is interested in teaching. You do what is right. You continue to invite, invite and invite, when no one else will do the same. You do what is right. You continue to drop suggestions, ideas and hope, even though you know every idea will be shot down. You do what is right.

  Your faith is in the Lord, not a dead church. You don’t have to be dead. The few in Sardis must have looked so different to everyone else. Their eyes were upon the Lord.

  The faithful few…make sure you are numbered among them.