1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
The snooze button is one of my greatest enemies. My wife has a habit of hitting the button a good three or four times every morning. Perhaps you can relate. The loud beeping goes off every few minutes, just as I am falling off to sleep again. Some days, I just want to throw that alarm clock out the window. Every morning, that alarm goes off, telling us to “Wake up!”
Sometimes, we need a good wake up call in our lives. It is so easy to just go through the motions of our lives, outwardly appearing alive and thriving. However, our inward life may present a very different reality. In this letter to the church to Sardis, Jesus says though John, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.” The church at Sardis was in a spiritual coma of sorts. Despite their reputation, they were actually asleep and about to die, in desperate need of being reawakened and made alive!
As you think about your own life, is your reputation different than your reality? If we are honest, reputation management is plain old exhausting. We may try to put on a face, to make ourselves look good on the outside, despite the fact that our inner life doesn’t match. Our reality may be far from the “perfect image” we try to present to others in person and through social media. This has great implications for our relationship with God. If we become consumed with outward acts, perhaps even good deeds, we can still miss the point.
There is a great danger to try and do things for God, and yet be far from Him in reality. As Peter Scazzero writes, “Work for God that is not nourished by a deep interior life with God will eventually be contaminated by other things such as ego, power, needing approval of and from others, and buying into the wrong ideas of success and the mistaken belief that we can’t fail.” Jesus had harsh words for those whose outward reputation did not match their inner reality. He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28).
Thankfully, there is a different way to live. We are called to live with God, abiding and remaining in Him (John 15), finding our identity in His incredible, unconditional love for us in Christ. We are called to be awakened to the reality that our lives have great meaning and purpose. Today, reflect on this call to wake up. Be honest before God, talking with Him about ways that your outer life and inner life may not line up. Ask him for help and thank Him for His steady love and pursuit of us. Reflect on these words from Scazzero, “We cannot give what we do not possess. Doing for God in a way that is proportionate to our being with God is the only pathway to a pure heart and seeing God (Matthew 5:8).”
By Billy Berglund