Defibrillators for Sardis

Rebecca Van Noord

Ezekiel 9:1–11:25; Revelation 3:1–13; Job 33:8–18

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 spiritually dead. Those parts not already dead were dying. And the façade only perpetuated continued decay.

What was the answer? Was there hope for Sardis? Is there hope for us? Sardis could be brought back from the edge of death, but only through repentance: “Therefore remember how you have received and heard, and observe it, and repent” (Rev 3:3). Urgency is paramount: “Be on the alert,” Christ tells them. “I will come like a thief.

We have received the same instructions. Like Sardis, we might—if we try hard enough—meet others’ expectations. But we shouldn’t lie to ourselves. God sees our outward works, but He also knows our hidden hearts. Name your need, repent, and find hope in Christ, the only one who can fill the emptiness.

In what areas of your life do you feel empty? How can you name your sin?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.