Read Revelation 3:1-6
1 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:
“I know all the things you do,and that you have a reputation for being alive-but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains,for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up,I will come to you suddenly,as unexpected as a thief.
4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white,for they are worthy. 5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life,but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. (NLT)
Churches can look really good on the outside. Attractive buildings,lots of activities,a longstanding reputation,a well designed website. And it can all amount to very little. The church at Sardis was a bit like this. We can imagine the church-growth gurus flocking there to pick up handy hints. We can imagine books being written about it and their leader being launched on the conference circuit.
But the Lord knows just how dead they are. Not irretrievably so,but certainly not as healthy as their reputation suggests. They need to quit relying on their reputation and get back to the fundamentals of their faith. They need to quit being ‘armchair Christians’ whose aim is to get a comfortable ride to heaven.
There is no hint of this church being under attack. Perhaps it is because it wasn’t worth attacking. Its cosy sort of faith posed no threat to the opponents of the faith. They may even speak well of that church,but the only one whose opinion counts is not so easily fooled. He calls them to turn decisively and embrace true faith rather than its comfortable counterfeit.
Then as now it is easier to look good than to be good.