Fifth in a series
My wife is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) for a local hospital, so she puts people under sedation before they go into surgery.
I sometimes joke that she puts people to sleep Monday through Friday, and as a pastor I put people to sleep only on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Often, when others find out she is an anesthetist, they wonder aloud that it must be tricky to put someone to sleep. My wife usually responds that putting someone under is not the trick – it’s waking them back up!
As I was reading about the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6, these same conversations kept coming back to my mind within the context of the local church.
The Lord warns the church at Sardis against being alive in name only, while they were truly lifeless and dead. Jesus issues a call for the church to come alive and be watchful.
It is apparent the church at Sardis was once great, because they had a name of being alive.
This sounds like so many churches in modern day America, still living in the glory days of what happened when our grandparents were in church. “Wake up, be watchful, and repent!” Jesus says to us.
Ancient Sardis was known for its rich history, military defense and wealth, but the church had grown complacent and had been lulled to sleep without even realizing what happened.
Jesus’ command to “wake up and be watchful” was an indictment against the church because He “did not find their works perfect before God.”
We always look for someone to blame, so whose fault was it that this church was sleeping on the job? Was it the pastor’s fault, or maybe the deacons or better yet the music leaders? As the church is close to death, Jesus gives a warning that “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know the hour I will come upon you!” He calls each of them to repentance, or risk facing His judgement.
Jesus acknowledged there were a few dedicated people still holding on in a dying church. There was something very different about them, because they had not defiled their garments. The true believers were known to be worshippers that did not compromise nor grow comfortable.
Christians, be encouraged. There is no person or congregation beyond the hope, help and healing of Jesus. So, church, be watchful!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This article is part of a series on the theme of the 2018 North Carolina Pastors’ Conference, “7 Churches of Revelation.” This year’s event will occur Nov. 4-5 in conjunction with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting. Visit ncpastorsconference.org for more information. Chip Hannah is senior pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Whiteville. Each column in the series is written by a different N.C. leader and refers to one of the seven churches in Revelation.)