“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!” - Revelation 3:1-2
In his letter to the church in Sardis, Jesus aims to awaken sleepy believers. Does any of this apply to our churches today? This would not be a flattering letter to any church community, especially for one that had “a reputation of being alive.”
Churches often allow themselves to be lulled into believing that all is well when the Word of God is preached with power and skill, the sacraments are celebrated, church programs are filled with participants, and budgets are met. By all appearances, these activities speak of a church’s health and vitality.
But Jesus makes a bold statement to churches in this mindset: “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead!” This is a shocking revelation! Instead of just having a reputation for being alive, the church community must put into practice what they have received and heard (Revelation 1:3).
Obedience—receiving God’s Word, celebrating the sacraments, and letting these gifts of God shape how we live—is what Jesus looks for. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice,” Jesus said at the end of his Sermon on the Mount, “is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
So let’s do more than merely look alive. Let’s make sure we listen and obey.