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Sardis: The Measure of Vitality (part 2)



Yesterday I shared two imperatives that Christ gave the Church at Sardis. Today I want to share the next two. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post you’ll want to catch up before reading further.

3. “Go back to where you started!” If you’ve ever lost anything, one strategy you may employ is to retrace your steps with hopes that you’ll find what you’ve lost. Once Christ had the attention of his church, he called them to retrace their spiritual steps back to the place they lost their way. Every now and then its helpful for us to remember why the church exists in the first place. Many churches, both emerging and established, began with a missionary mandate to make disciples in accordance to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). They begin with a fervor to reach out and help people connect with the gospel, and then a point of decision comes. Churches either determine to continue down their path of disciple making, or they look around and feel as though they have accumulated enough people to organize, shepherd, and have fellowship. We don’t know if this is Sardis’ particular problem, but it is clear that this problem exists today.

4. “Repent!” After hearing Christ’s words, he invited them to act upon them, forsaking their present state in favor of taking a new direction.

So what bearing do these imperatives have on our churches and ministries today?

First, we must rely on God’s Spirit to energize and animate our work. Do the ends justify the means? Not in the economy of the Kingdom of God. God’s work must be done God’s way. We may be successful in our own power, but we’ll never be significant (John 15:5).

Second, we must believe that God’s desire for our churches exceeds even our own desires. Much of our time may be spent chasing numbers and pursuing that elusive reputation of being a strong, growing church. Jesus asks us to trust him, to seek guidance from him, and to allow him to energize our work. The results may not be what we think they should be, but at least we wouldn’t have to settle for success. We could be significant.

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