The desire to quit something is often just as powerful as the initial desire to begin. This is true in all things including our pursuit of Jesus. In the beginning stages of our endeavors, we start strong. Then, as time passes, we almost indefinitely slack off. So what happens? How can we be swung to the other side of passion so easily? In Revelation 3:1-6, the Apostle John addresses the church at Sardis regarding this very thing. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead (v.2).”
Service and dedication to Jesus and His church surpasses vain appearance. By looking at the inside/outside of our church buildings and being aware of the presence that we have in our cities, it’s easy to come to a conclusion that we are accomplishing great things. We are involved in the affairs of the unbelievers in our cities, we engage with the various cultures around us, and even aid in relief efforts. We appear to be alive. But are we?
1 Peter 2:2 says “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation, if indeed you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” The ‘spiritual milk’ spoken of here is the Word of God. In a sense we are jump-started and given faith and a strong desire to know Jesus and be like Him. We are changed and soon crave more….Or at least we should (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). As we pursue our understanding of Jesus we are compelled by the very concepts of grace and mercy to mature. We watch as Jesus lives a life of pure love and selflessness. We watch as he encounters grave persecution, ultimately leading to his brutal murder where even then He sacrifices his life willingly and presses on. How was He able to do this in the face of so much adversity? How, when all seemed hopeless, could He carry on? Jesus was being driven and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to endure and conquer is empowering us (Romans 8:11). Not only was Jesus’ reputation one of life (in all aspects of the word), it was confirmed by all who knew Him because of His actions. We, like the believers in the church at Sardis, have received and heard a gospel that is ‘life altering power’. We have been given the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead!
Why then do we encounter the saving Grace of Jesus that spurs us to maturity and settle for infancy? We have no problem showing up at church to ‘worship’ Jesus and yet even in the building itself we often fail to. Like infants, we sit in our chairs ready to be spoon-fed. We sit almost helplessly as we watch those whom God has called to lead beg us to join the mission. Jesus told the church at Sardis to “Remember then what you have received and heard”(v.3). We must remember. We must never be satisfied with infancy. If we believe Jesus is who He said He was and has truly given us salvation, then we cannot remain the same. Pursue a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. Apply the gospel to every part of your life. Give cheerfully, sacrificially, and faithfully to the mission that Jesus has sent us on! Step up and fill one of the many areas of service left vacant in the church.
Like the church at Sardis we have leaders who are pressing on in the mission unwilling to give up! (v.4) Join them! Go back to that moment when our sin and the grace of Jesus collided. Let our reputation precede us and then let us prove it so by an unwavering example of service, giving, and prayer. Desire more than infancy. Do not let the enemy or the world blind your eyes and present you with excuses to stall your growth.
“And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP” (Galatians 6:9, emphasis mine).
The gospel means that we ‘get’ Jesus.
“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels. He who has an ear let him hear…” – Revelation 3:5-6