How sad it is that so many congregations of the Lord’s people are dying. Sadder still, that much of it could be prevented. Major health problems often advertise their presence through minor symptoms. Doctors recommend routine health screenings to look for signs of trouble. In many cases, if symptoms can be identified early then steps can be taken to prevent any major problems. The health of the church operates in the same fashion. By looking closely at symptoms, one can get an idea as to the overall condition of the congregation.
Revelation begins with addresses to 7 congregations scattered throughout Asia Minor. Each one receives commendation and/or condemnation for matters occurring in their midst. These churches stand as a perfect model for congregations today. Over the past several weeks we’ve noticed the indicators of bad health. The church at Sardis is the last of several examples to consider.
Sardis fell asleep. The church was dying and did not know it. Jesus said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die” (Rev. 3:1-2). Note that they “had a name” but their reputation was not indicative of reality.
A congregation may be well known in the brotherhood because of their works and large numbers, but numbers and names are not necessarily an indicator of good health. Many are the stories of celebrities who seemed to have it all to the public eye but were privately falling apart. If we allow ourselves to become comfortable with the status quo, always look for the path of least resistance, and be satisfied with simply being satisfied, then we are standing in the shoes of Sardis.
It is tragic to watch a congregation wither away and die needlessly. Thankfully the Great Physician knows the cure. Each of the congregations in Asia Minor were exhorted to repent and assured of their Lord’s approval upon doing so. Nothing has changed. Dying congregations need only to honestly examine their symptoms in light of God’s Word and change. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.