We cover up the dead places in ourselves with all sorts of regalia. We fill the emptiness with fine clothing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, or relationships in which the other is set up as god. Underneath the trappings, though, we’re decaying.
Of all the churches addressed in Revelation, the church in Sardis receives the most intense critique. Sardis was a wealthy city and a military stronghold. And the church, like the city, seemed to be alive and well. But Christ, speaking truth through John’s revelation, uncovers and names the decaying parts: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, and you are dead. Be on the alert and strengthen the remaining things that are about to die, for I have not found your works completed before my God” (Rev 3:1–2).
The community in Sardis needed more than a stern scolding. They needed immediate resuscitation. They had so compromised their faith that many among them were spiritual…