Sardis - Dead
Many people worshiped false gods and goddesses at the temple of Artemis, yet the church in Sardis was indifferent, hard hearted, and stiff necked—in a word, “dead.” Would Jesus say the same to us? Is your relationship with him routine or ritual? Passionate or mere duty? Do you really care about Jesus and people? Are you dead or alive? Jesus calls you to wake up and repent.
Sardis was one of the oldest cities in Asia Minor, it was about 30 miles SE of Thyatira, which is about a 4 hour boat ride in modern times. Back in 17AD the city was virtually destroyed by a massive earthquake, but then later on it was given government assistance and rebuilt with new life.
This city in particular had clout and it had fame and it had wealth, and it took particular pride in its temples of pagan worship.
As you entered the city you would notice from a distance their famous Acropolis and Necropolis; which we’ve seen show up in several of the letters to the Churches because of the landscape in the region.
But this Acropolis/Necropolis was known as “the cemetery of a 1,000 hills”, and it’s called this because of the 100’s of burial mounds that were visible from miles and miles away—think about these graves similarly or in relation to how today the Hollywood sign works as a billboard for Los Angeles.
The Church and city of Sardis had seen its best days in the past, and they were living on a previous reputation of success. It was both literally and figuratively the cemetery of 1,000 hills. Which shows us the contrast between their past splendor and present decay.
Jesus looks in at His Church at Sardis and says to them, ” ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” – Rev. 3:1 This is a divine diagnosis of death from the exalted Jesus. Though there is no congratulations or commendations from Christ, He does provide a pathway to a cure if the Church will follow His instruction through repentance. Repentance = is a change of mind, that results in a change of attitude, and a change of action regarding sin.
questions for reflection
Should a church strive to have a good reputation? How can a reputation actually hide weaknesses in the church?
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
Proverbs 26:11 ESV