A dead church with a few live people
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:
‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
‘Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 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 what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:1-6 ESV)
A church that is reputed to be alive but is actually dead. Yet within that church of Sardis there were a few people who had not soiled their garments. Those few people are assured that they will walk with God, and at the same time they are urged to be overcomers, conquerors, so they may assuredly walk with God in fullness at the end of time.
Overcome what? The temptation to give up and take the broad way. The temptations of the flesh. The temptation to take our own vengeance rather than leaving vengeance to God. The temptation to succumb to the fog, the poison, the contamination and contagion which the already made the rest of the church dead.
Overcome the intimidation and lies weilded by the powerful wolves who must have gained control in this church — otherwise why would it have become dead?
Dear God, please give us strength, wisdom, and steadfastness. Lead us. Direct us. Protect us. Be our Helper. Rescue us from the evildoers. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die — wake up and empower your people, the true church, the body of Christ which may or may not be in a bricks and mortar church.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed. (Isaiah 51:6)