Appearing Alive; Nearly Dead
AUDIO: Listen to the audio version of this post HERE.
Revelation 3:1-2 (AMP)
‘I know your deeds; you have a name (reputation) that you are alive, but [in reality] you are dead.
2 Wake up, and strengthen and reaffirm what remains [of your faithful commitment to Me], which is about to die;
Does your personal spirit or that of your church congregation need church (spiritual) “revitalization”? Paul Przybylowski, of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, provides a definition in his sermon entitled “Church Revitalization: Hear What the Spirit Says“:
What is church revitalization? Well, it’s somewhat like remodeling a 100-year-old house. There’s a good foundation, but the house has seen some better days. As you fix it up, you might need to update the electricity and plumbing, put new roofing on, paint the siding, and landscape the yard. Church revitalization is spiritual remodeling.
I’ll define it like this: Church revitalization is when Jesus gives new life and power to his local church through his Spirit and Word. Churches typically follow a life-cycle: birth, growth, plateau, decline, and either revitalization or death…. Humanly speaking, local churches plateau and decline for many different reasons. The letters in Revelation 2–3 give us some reasons that churches need revitalization: Love for the world more than for Jesus (2:4), false teaching (2:14–15), immorality among church members and leaders (2:22), religious traditions and reputation without Jesus (3:2), indifference about Jesus and his mission (3:15), reliance upon our own strengths and resources (3:17). [a]
Specifically referring to the church of Sardis (as alluded to in the subject Scripture text of Revelation 3:1-2 above), Paul continues:
The church in Sardis looks fine on the outside—it has the reputation of being alive. People assume the church is thriving. But Jesus sees the heart of the matter. He has a divine perspective: “You are dead.”…. Is the church dead or is it sleepy (“wake up”) and about to die? It’s a paradox. Jesus is saying that the church is in a sleepy coma, on the hospital bed, and on the verge of death. Now, historically, we know that there were large Jewish and pagan communities in Sardis at this time. The church in Sardis may have become too at-home in their culture, and compromised their faith in Jesus. As one scholar notes, the church had become “a perfect model of inoffensive Christianity” (Caird). [a]
Paul, in his sermon, also provides a thought-provoking summary (with which I will end this blog post):
Remember back to when you first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and put your trust in Him. How is your relationship with Jesus today? Is your heart alive with the love of Jesus? Are you bearing fruit as you walk with Jesus by faith? Or, do you look alive on the outside, but there’s no true faith or love for Jesus on the inside? [a]
Let’s be awake and ready for Jesus to come back. [a]