The church in Sardis is dying – their actions are not up to what Jesus wants. They have a reputation for being alive, though. I have found that the reputation is what often hurts a church. As humans, we naturally want to move from discomfort to comfort. Yet, as we study Scripture, we find that God is always calling us out of our comfort and into doing great things for Him. The churches of Asia Minor are suffering – but we don’t hear about much suffering in Sardis, or much solidarity with the suffering. The Christians in Philadelphia are suffering, obeying Christ no matter what – and He gives them incredible words of encouragement – they will be pillars of faith.
A church starts to die when the leaders want status and status quo more than the Savior, when preference trumps mission, when a hunger for the Word and the presence of Christ is replaced with doing “what needs to be done”. We don’t run to suffering – we hold on to the Lord and His truth, we run to the lost, we fight for justice – and these things bring on suffering.
Are you alive in faith? How do you know? How is God working to make you secure in Him – but uncomfortable?