I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.
The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we.
We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.
This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series
How many of us let down our guards in our walk with Jesus? I’ll own it: I have.
Sardis (See Revelation 3:1-6) was a wealthy city in John’s time. It had seen better days, but the people lived well. The church looked alive. There was little conflict or division. Many called the people of this city soft, and dare I say it—entitled—because of their wealth and luxury.
Sardis was a city with sheer cliff walls protecting them. Though they were in an easily defensible position, they were overcome by enemies, not once but twice.
Because their guards stopped watching. Their soldiers became overconfident in their protective walls.
The enemy found a way in. And conquered them.
In the days of the seven churches, Sardis was again in a place of not watching. Idolatry, sexual immorality reigned supreme, even within the church. Their church had stopped watching for the enemy of their souls and let their hearts’ guard down.
Jesus begins His letter with a rebuke. He told them He knew their works. That they looked alive but were dead.
The enemy entered the church and seduced many believers away from Jesus. His goal: to overcome and kill. Jesus warned them that they needed to repent.
We’ve all walked through times of being overcome by our enemy. The walls of our heart were overrun. We were left naked and exposed. And defeated.
Attacks aren’t always a result of not walking closely with the Lord. Attacks come because we have an enemy who wants to destroy us.
I’m not making light of the trials or the heartbreak we all walk through. This life has one guarantee: we will face trials.
We will undergo times of attack.
Some trials that invade our lives shake us to our foundation.
They challenge us to question the goodness of God, even suspect His character. They lead us to a precipice.
We can blame God for allowing tough things to happen. Our hearts can grow cold toward Him. We can become cynical because God didn’t live up to our expectations.
Or, we can remember that God promises to be with us in the midst of hard seasons.
In Matthew it says the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The question is, how will our hearts respond when it rains on us?
Will we choose to look beyond the circumstances and into the face of our Father? Will we choose to believe that He is good, even when He allows the horrible into our lives?
Jesus searches for those who will turn to Him, those who will ask Him to be their defender and protector. His protection seldom looks the way we expect. But Jesus is with us. He will deal with our enemies. Either on this side of the veil or on the other.
When we turn to Him as the attacks come, He can strengthen our heart-walls so we can endure. We can be the over-comers in the end. He’s the One who gains our victory.
Sardis was in a powerful, well-guarded position. Ultimately, they were defeated because they didn’t keep watch.
For us, that can look like becoming so comfortable with what we believe that we stop pursuing God in His word and in prayer.
We allow lesser things to attract our eyes, our attention.
Like their forbears, many in Sardis’ church had stopped guarding the walls of their hearts. Worldly mindsets had crept in to both occupy them and to tell them they were doing just fine.
Pride is a quiet enemy. It slips in, convinces us we’re fine. That it’s okay to let other things take priority over spending time with God. It’s acceptable—expected even—to pursue other things. Lesser things.
Sure, we’re still doing the good works. But are they grounded in a desire to please Jesus and grow closer to Him? Or are they grounded in a different motivation?
Even when we’re intentional about pursuing relationship with Him, we’ll face attack.
We must guard our hearts.
The people of Sardis did the works that looked good from the outside. But God declared them imperfect, incomplete.
What works do we do today that look good, but God sees them differently?
He’s looking at our hearts. Always our hearts. What motivates us? Do we complete works out of love for Him? Or to look good to those watching?
When we entrust our hearts to Him, through times of ease and struggle, He will guard and protect us.
What about you? How do you keep the walls of your heart strong? How have you dealt with pride in your life?