Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Letters from a friend

Our adult small group has been working through Answers for Chicken Little, which is a study of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle. Early in the book, the author describes the letters to the seven churches as the "Roman Postal Route" from where John was on the island of Patmos. The letters were written to be read by all of the churches, but addressed specific issues within each church. I'd like to take a look at the letters individually if you would indulge me.

The first is a letter to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3.

1"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spiritsof God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Ouch. John pulls no punches here. "You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. " In essence, he is saying that they are living on their reputation and have fallen away from following the Lord. That is tough to hear when someone calls you out. The good news is that there is time to correct the problem.

That spoke to me because there are times when I live on my reputation but have slacked off in my obedience. The call to repentance is clear, and the assurance that God will work with those who genuinely repent to lead them into everlasting glory gives a great measure of hope. If these words cause you. as they did me, to look inward and see areas where you are living on your reputation, take the advice of John and repent. And go forward with the one who who is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

May God grant you mercy and peace.

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