Church in Sardis
Let’s turn to Revelation 3, Revelation chapter 3. If you need an outline, raise your hand. If you need a Bible there should be one in the back of a seat near you. And if you go all the way to the end, the book of Revelation chapter 3. I want to before we start prepare you for the fact that there is a lot in this passage. We’re going to tend to be overwhelmed with how to respond. So even now as we’ve been praying and meditating, let’s continue to ask the Spirit to give us wisdom to know exactly how to respond as he speaks to us through his Word. So a few weeks ago I was wrestling with a paragraph written by a pastor, Todd Wilson, in an article entitled “The Integrated Pastor.”
He wrote this:
“Pastors can be godly and dysfunctional at the same time. They can be holy and not whole. They can be biblically faithful and psychologically broken. They can be prayer warriors and control freaks, spiritually mature and emotionally repressed. They can sincerely love Jesus yet be addicted to food or porn or pain meds. I know this is true from experience.”
So let’s think about this for a bit. Let’s put up those contrasts that he outlines. What do you think about that?
Pastors can be godly and dysfunctional, holy and not whole, biblically faithful and psychologically broken.
How are you feeling? Like duh, just look at yourself, man.
So there are parts of this as I was reading it, you know, yes. Yes, tragically. If we’re describing the way it so often is, yes.
If we’re describing the fact that we as Christians, whether pastor or not, are not finished yet. God isn’t finished changing us. We have areas of blindness and brokenness and stubbornness, yes. So I can see myself in that list, and I’m sure you can see yourself in that list.
So yes. Is this true? Yes. But there’s a part of this that, as I was reading this, I was screaming, no! No! How can godly and dysfunctional live together? I guess it depends on how you define godly and dysfunctional, right? Dysfunctional we typically define as socially impaired, both personally and then creating dysfunction. Godly, though, is a word that refers to very practical manifestations of God’s presence and influence in our lives. So there seems to be an incompatibility there. We can go ahead and leave that up there.
How can I be a prayer warrior and a control freak? It seems like something’s wrong with my praying if it doesn’t translate into the capacity to trust God in circumstances. Or the last one, how can I sincerely love Jesus and yet be addicted to porn? Isn’t that what Jesus was talking about when he said you can’t have two masters? So what do you do with that?
Jesus seems to be fanatical about keeping together the idea of holiness and wholeness. Wilson divorces those two as if you can be truly holy and not whole in a practical sense. Jesus said, for example, in Matthew 23 to the scribes and Pharisees, you “hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead peoples bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” So maybe it will help to hear a little of Todd’s story, the guy who wrote the quote. In 2015 he was pastoring and was given a three-month sabbatical. He had some goals for his three-month sabbatical. He was going to finish writing one book, start writing another book, read Calvin’s Institutes, memorize the book of James to prepare to preach it, brush up on his Hebrew. Those were some of his sabbatical goals. But he decided to rest beforehand and take a week off before he started his sabbatical. But he said by Wednesday I came unglued. What did he mean by that? These are his words.
“I went through real physical signs of withdrawal: irritability, uncontrolled craving, edginess, desperation – not for booze or drugs, but for accomplishment, achievement, and getting stuff done.”
So he was driving his wife crazy. So the next week he got up at 5:00. He went to the Y to work out, got to church at 6:30, had his devotions till 8:00, worked till 6:00 that night and felt fantastic. He said
“I felt better instantly. My brain experienced a surge of satisfaction, like I just hooked up to my favorite narcotic. The irritability, the edginess, and the sense of desperation were gone. I was back in the driver’s seat.”
But he had some friends who started noticing his car at church and began calling him. I thought you were on sabbatical. Why do we see your car at work? He ended up in the counselor’s office. After a while he realized “25 years of Christian spiritual formation had added layer upon layer of moral formation on top of deeply seated compulsions that still controlled me.” So Wilson was coming face to face for the first time it seems with the extent of his brokenness. If you go on our website and look under our counseling philosophy, you’ll see a little video there. Right near the beginning it uses the phrase “a holistic view of brokenness.”
We have a holistic view of brokenness. What do we mean by that? We are broken spiritually, yes. But we are also broken relationally. We are also broken physically. We are broken culturally and socially. Our brokenness is holistic.
So however we view salvation, it has to be holistic, in the sense that Jesus is transforming us from the inside out. This is the part that is really sobering both for the pastor in his own heart and for people. You can have people or a pastor who hears sermons for decades and yet still have the same attitudes, same stubbornness.
This is the way Wilson puts it. He calls this spiritual dis-integration.
“We see signs of dis-integrated Christians all around us. Why is it that so-called ‘good’ Christians don’t always make very good human beings? [Wow, that’s a lot of amening for North Hills. You want some testimonies?] They are faithful to their families, they’re consistent in church attendance, they cut their grass and pay their taxes, and they read their Bibles, pray for the nations. Yet they can also be rigid, self-righteous, xenophobic, racist, sexist, controlling, narrow-minded, emotionally repressed, sexually dysfunctional, bitter, impulsive, and angry. We need an approach to spiritual formation that fosters integration – that brings together doctrinal instruction and moral development on the one hand, with psychological healing on the other. An approach that brings about not only holiness but wholeness.”
I think what he’s getting at is what Jesus described in so many different ways when he talked about loving him with our heart, which we interpret emotionally, but that was much bigger from a Semitic perspective. Heart, soul, mind – all of us from inside-out. And I think what the danger is, is many of us when we first hear the gospel, whether we’re 6 or 60, when we hear the gospel, and the Spirit opens our eyes, convicts our hearts, there are big things that we realize we need to change. It may be selfishness or stubbornness or drug and alcohol addiction or potty mouth. We know we’ve got to clean up, experience change and that Jesus does that through the power of the gospel. So we embrace that, his grace washes over us, his life flows through us. We experience that transforming power by grace through faith. But then here’s the danger. Over many years we can come to the place where we feel like, yeah, we’ve done that, people think of us as a Christian. We have a Christian reputation. We’ve seen big changes.
But here’s the danger. We can subtly begin resisting ongoing transformation. As if, hey I signed up for package B – Christianity. That was just a little external transformation. Get rid of the big things that are ruining my reputation in life. But don’t go into the nooks and crannies of my soul and past and personality, all these things. No, I didn’t sign up for that. Jesus can come in my heart, but Grandpa is still in my genes. And my family’s always been an angry family. We tell each other we love each other by yelling at each other. This is the way we do it. Addiction flows through our generations as if the gospel only has certain areas it’s allowed to change, and once we have the reputation of being a Christian, we’re good. We’re done.
What Jesus does in Revelation 3:1, third sentence, look at that. Revelation 3:1, third sentence, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Now that word reputation in the Greek onoma, which is the word name, you have the name of being alive, but you are dead. Now I could be wrong here, but I don’t think he’s talking about spiritual dead like Ephesians 2, “dead in trespasses and sins” dead. And the reason I think, as we go through the passage, I think you’ll see it. Because later he says you’re actually dying. The Bible doesn’t talk about an unbeliever in that way. So he’s probably not talking about dead in trespasses and sin, but you’re trying to be a nominal Christian. You’re trying to be a Christian in name only, and you can’t do that. Jesus doesn’t play that game. He’s not interested in just giving you a better marketing department. He’s not interested in just changing your externals, your image, your facade. He’s changing you and working in you. But here Jesus is warning the church at Sardis that you have lost your “life-i-ness,” and you’re acting as if you’re a spiritual corpse. Before we examine the details of that, let’s step back and see where we’ve come in these five letters we’ve seen so far. And you will notice the relentless grace of Jesus to come after his church and transform us. And he does multidirectionally, multifaceted transformation. And as we get to the rest of the letters the next couple of weeks, we’re going to see this amazing composite of a message for the churches that is stunning in its both depth and breadth. Look at Ephesus, when you’re standing but not loving. Standing meaning, the words he used there are toiling and enduring and bearing up, but you’ve left your love in the past. Smyrna, when you’re preparing for suffering. Pergamum, when you’re holding on to multiple “saviors,” trying to play both sides. Thyatira, when you’re tolerating wrong, tolerating Jezebel. Sardis, when you’re riding on reputation. Jesus does not just say, “Hey guys, I understand it’s hard. You’ve changed in some areas, we’re good to go. I’m getting you into heaven, so don’t worry about anything else.” That is not the approach.
Notice how there are so many times where he says, I thank God for this in you, I love this about you, but I’m concerned about this. That’s Jesus’ relentless pursuit of transformation for his people. He is acting out 1 Thessalonians 5:23,
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Isn’t that amazing?
Jesus is doing it today. That’s why he brought you here. This is part of it, where he’s going to open our eyes to some things that we really need to hear. He’s going to show us parts of ourselves that we’d rather not see. But all of that is for the purpose of transforming us into his image, warning us of dangerous digressions, stirring us back to “life-i-ness.”
So today the word to the church of Sardis is, stop trying to ride on reputation. And the history of Sardis is really helpful in understanding this message. Sardis was 60 miles inland from the coast near Ephesus and had been the capitol of the Lydian empire. Its greatest asset in the ancient world was its geographical advantage. For example, the king, the main King Croesus, during its golden age, was known for his wealth. Now you who are chronologically blessed have probably heard the expression “rich as Croesus.” That’s where this comes from. I don’t hear that much nowadays. You know, think rich as Bill Gates. That’s Croesus, and he was the king of Sardis during their golden age. Yet Cyrus the king of Persia was rising up in power. So Croesus realized I can either wait for him or I can go after him, so he goes after him.
Cyrus beats Croesus. Croesus flees, no problem. Back to the stronghold of Sardis. And this is the geographical advantage I was talking about. There was a massive cliff on the edge of this city. There was a lower part of the city, but this stronghold is where they would flee to. It was 1500 feet high, and they viewed it as unassailable. So they really only had to defend one side. So it was really hard to defeat this city. However their confidence as Herodotus, the great Greek historian recorded, was unfounded. Because some of Cyrus’ men found a way to climb up this cliff, and there were no guards on that side of the city. So they could enter the city, eventually open the gates, and the city fell.
This happened a couple hundred years later, Sardis also fell. Both times they were so confident in their geographical advantage, in their reputation as a city of being unassailable, that they didn’t guard in places where they should have guarded, and the city went down.
Sir William Ramsay, the great archaeologist, summarizes this. Sardis “was a city whose name was almost synonymous with pretensions unjustified, promise unfulfilled, appearance without reality, confidence which heralded ruin.” So Sardis became famous for its presumption.
They tried to ride on reputations. So Jesus came to them and said, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you’re actually dead.”
This is a strong warning that our very strengths can blind us.
So how does Jesus help protect us from that?
He says essentially four things, calls us to four things, and the church at Sardis to four things. First of all verse 1, recognize who Jesus is. Recognize who Jesus is. Jesus begins his letter to Sardis as he begins all his letters, explaining who is speaking to them. When you’re riding on reputation, you have a tendency to select who you want to listen to – certain press releases that are positive, others that might not be, so you ignore those. Jesus is saying if you’re going to listen to anyone, listen to me.
This is why. And he describes two aspects of himself that are quoted from chapter 1, “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God.” As we talked about back in chapter 1, it’s from 1:4, this is not seven different Holy Spirits. This is describing the completion or perfection of the Spirit taken from Isaiah 11:2. “The Spirit of the Lord [first characteristic] shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
Verse 3, right after that, says he will not judge by what the eyes see or the ears hear.
In other words, Jesus has the Spirit of God which enables him to see beyond the facades through our makeup and defenses and self-justification to see who we really are and how we really live. He has the Spirit of God. Secondly, the seven stars, taken from 1:16, which are the angels of the seven churches, in his right hand, which is communicating whether microscopic heart intentions or macroscopic celestial beings, he sees and controls them all. Therefore he can confidently say, verse 1,
“I know your works.” I know your works. So number 1, recognize who’s talking to us. Number 2, be honest about who you are. Be honest about who you are.
Most of us hear messages from within and without that are a subtle blend of fame and shame. Like cheer and jeer, positive/negative. But the positive can be delusional, the negative can produce despair. But when these two mix, they form a deadly bond. When we take on an attitude of pride and insecurity, we become very defensive (that’s the insecurity) and the pride (We don’t want to listen to anybody because we don’t think you’re right, we don’t need to listen to anybody). That combination blinds us to who we really are.
And we can assume things that are not true.
So Jesus speaks with laser-like clarity through our delusion and despair, and he describes the symptoms of this church at Sardis, which can easily describe us at times. Here are the symptoms.
I’ll just roll through them pretty quickly, and we’ll unpack them a little bit later when we talk about the remedy. He says “You are dead,” end of verse 1. You’ve lost your malleability, rigor mortis is setting in. You have spiritual stiffening. You’re asleep, verse 2, is implied by the command to wake up. You’re weak, in other words you need to strengthen what remains. And we’ll explain what we mean by that. You’re dying, he uses the phrase “is about to die.” So in Princess Bride language, you’re only mostly dead. Which is another clue as to he’s probably not talking about dead in trespasses and sins. He is talking about moving toward a spiritual deadness that is unresponsive to the Spirit. Incomplete, in other words “I have not found your works complete in the sight of God.” And then finally again implied in verse 4, contaminated, when he contrasts the people who have not soiled their garments. So what do we do when Jesus comes to us and looks at us and says these strong words? When the reckoning of Jesus comes in conflict with the reputation we have built for ourselves?
How are we going to respond to it? For some of you right now, the Spirit of God is speaking to you saying, hey this is you. This is you. But inside you’re saying, no, everybody knows I’m a Christian and a godly Christian and a mature one. I can’t acknowledge this. And this is the challenge. Will we receive? If the Spirit is speaking to your heart and applying this word to your heart, will you say yes? Yes. I want to hear what you have to say. I’m not going to ride on my reputation, no matter what has happened in the past.
I’m looking at my life right now and I see the stiffening. I see the lack of response. When I open the Bible, there’s not a fervency there. When I go to church, it’s not a hunger to hear his Word. It’s a “I’ve heard this before” kind of feeling. Will we say yes to the Spirit? So what do we do if he is speaking to us? Jesus then gives us steps toward repentance. Take steps toward repentance. In verses 2 and 3, Jesus issues 5 imperatives, 5 commands in these two verses. The last one is repent. Now why is repent last? You would think it would start there.
And I really wrestled with this. And again this is another reason why I think he’s talking about something different than you’re just run-of-the-mill unbeliever. When we ride on reputation, we tend to slip into that without realizing it.
We’re not talking about someone here, this isn’t the primary focus is someone who says like the prodigal son who said, “Give me my money, I’m going to go party with prostitutes.” That decision is really clear, right? I’m not following Jesus, and it’s obvious to everyone. That’s not what this is addressing. This is not someone who’s saying I want that. This is someone who says, “I have a reputation for being a Christian. I value that. I claim to be a Christian. I attend church. I try to do the right thing.”
But he is saying, “Wait. I am calling you to repentance.” But the reason I think he doesn’t start with repentance, which is a turning from one direction and one thought pattern to the opposite, is because we can’t see it when we’re riding on reputation. So he calls us to four steps to repentance so that we can see it. Four commands. First of all, wake up, verse 2. Stir yourself. When you’re driving along the road, you’re listening to music and all of a sudden, thump, thump. That’s what’s happening here. You know those rumble strips on the side of the road and those times (I know you’ve never done this) where you’ve been nodding off?
Jesus is acting like the rumble strips. He’s saying I know you’re not purposely trying to veer off the road, but I love you too much to let you keep going the way you’re going. There’s a tree over there. Wake up. Wake up. You’re snoozing spiritually.
Secondly, follow through. Follow through. Verse 2, “strengthen what remains and is about to die.” And the image there is that of a guy who intends to renovate a vehicle, for example, and puts the car up on blocks and takes it apart and starts putting it back together but never gets it running. Strengthen what remains. Finish what you’ve started.
You’ve got a lot of good intentions.
You mean to memorize some verses. You want to grow spiritually. You started in that Bible study. You went to counseling twice. But then you know, I didn’t really connect with her and went to another counselor. She didn’t really connect with me. I tried another one, but I’m busy. It’s a pattern of not following through because for some reason you’re valuing other things more than the transformation of your life and the lives of those around you that Jesus is fanatical about. It’s not enough to have a life of good intentions. Let’s follow through.
Thirdly, look back. Verse 3, not look back to dredge up failures, but look back. “Remember then what you have received and heard.”
This is such a common theme in the Bible. Exodus 12, God tells the children of Israel to practice annual Passover so that you will never forget what God did when he passed over the children of Israel, and the blood was on the door post. Joshua 4, when they crossed the Jordan, the Ark of the Covenant came across. Build this tower of stones as a remembrance so that when your kids say, “What is that?” you can point back and say, “Hey, remember when God did that?” Psalm 77:11,
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
No it’s not, again, it’s not to live in the past, but it’s so that we can, verse 14, say, “You are the God who works wonders.” That Hebrew word is “pale” which is a form of “pala” which is a word that means, “You are the God who does what only God can do. You’re the God who works wonders.” So by rehearsing, remembering, like we’re about to do with the Lord’s Supper. What is the Lord’s Supper?
You say, well it feels like an empty ritual to me. Yeah, but the purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to build muscle memory so that the next week when you’re in the middle of a battle and you’re tempted to check out, you can remember, Christ died for me! He washed away my sins. The lies of the enemy that are coming at me right now are not true. He defeated sin and death.
Just like when you work out, you don’t go one time to the gym. Whoa. I look like Ryan. That doesn’t happen one time. There has to be a building of muscle over time, and this is why Jesus said, “Remember, remember, remember.” When we collectively remind ourselves and individually when we wake up in the morning, and we tune our heart to remember the steadfast love of the Lord, we are resisting the temptation to ride on reputation.
And finally, watch out. Keep it. That last command before repent. Present active imperative, keep keeping it. And it’s the word to guard or watch. The Hebrew equivalent is the one in Genesis 2:15 when God put Adam in the garden to work it and keep it. We cannot coast through the Christian life.
Now I’m not talking about some kind of legalistic fear-driven, if I don’t do the right thing, Jesus is going to nab me. No that is not it at all. But there is an earnestness and alertness that Jesus is calling us to.
We are not passive. It is faith-fueled energy that he gives us by his grace.
Jesus does warn those who are presumptuous, “Hey I don’t need to guard that side of the cliff, I can do whatever. I prayed a prayer when I was 6, I’m good to go.”
He warns us of that kind of presumption in verse 3. “If you will not wake up [and that’s the summary of everything he just said – wake up and repent], I will come like a thief.” Remember Cyrus’ men who climbed up the back of the city? “You will not know at what hour I will come against you.”
This is the warning of Christ. And the purpose of this warning is not to get us to question our salvation but to respond to the warning. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” Sheep hear warnings because they listen to their shepherd. Fake sheep ignore warnings because they assume it’s for someone else. “I hope my neighbor down the row hears this.” No. He gives us the warning because he loves us.
Finally, be encouraged by the few and the promises, the few and the promises. What do we mean by the few? Verse 4,
“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 few. It’s so easy when you’ve been in church for a while to become a hypocrite hunter. You can spot them. A hypocrite hunter. You can go to church, and you can pick out who you think or you figure, why does she do this and not do this, and I know her at work, and I know him, and you can become focused on who’s not doing it right.
And what Jesus ends here with is an encouragement. That no matter how far the church slips, I always have people in the midst who are not riding on reputation. They are living it. They’re here. We’re super blessed here. So if you say, “Peter I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve been riding on reputation for as long as I can remember, and I don’t even know what the real thing looks like.” Let me encourage you.
There are people who live it every day. Not perfectly, but they’re tapping into the grace of Christ. Their confidence is in him. And they would love to meet with you, pray with you, encourage you, disciple you. There are examples in our midst.
And it seems like what Jesus is doing by highlighting these is to say, “Hey, first to those of you who are living this way, I know the temptation is massive to just ride on reputation. It’s much easier down that road. But I want to encourage you. I see you. I know you. But then for those of you who aren’t, there are examples here. Be encouraged by the few.”
Also be encouraged by the promises. Jesus gives us three promises to the one who conquers. What do we mean, conquers? Continues to bear witness despite opposition, in contrast to this massive temptation to ride on reputation.
Here are the three promises.
Number 1, “You will be clothed thus in white garments,” that imagery of uncompromising purity.
Secondly, “I will never blot his name out of the book of life.” This is a remarkable promise, because so many Christians read this as a threat, right? He said, “I will never do this.” And Christians come to me all the time and say, does God blot people out of his book of life? Well, he actually just said he won’t. He won’t. Well, if he said he won’t, that means he could. Yeah, but he said he won’t.
And all throughout the book of Revelation you’ll hear this book of life described – 13:7, 18:7, somewhere around there 19:7. He says, now unbelievers were not in the book of life from before the foundation of the world. But there’s no example of anyone being in and taken out. The closest is Exodus 32:33, which is talking about the book of the living, which I believe is a different book, not the book of life.
That’s another discussion. The point here is no fear. Jesus is saying, “I will not blot his name out of the book of life.”
Third promise, I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Now think about this. That word name there, onoma, the same word he began this letter with, reputation, name.
He began with a fake name, a name that we conjure up and we create in our minds, and we think people view us with this reputation. And he said, “Don’t rely on that. Don’t ride on that reputation. Wake up to the reality of Christ and what he’s doing in your life, and receive the change that he is bringing and will bring to you. And let me tell you what I’m going to do. I will confess your name before my Father and his angels.” And I don’t think we get that, what he’s promising to do.
So last week I was talking to someone about the different levels of soccer. And this is true of any sport. Musical instruments, everything. You can jump in on the Y-league, and you can dominate the YMCA soccer league, and you’re the best soccer player. But then you join a club, and you start playing in the Rec League, and whoa these people really play. And it’s like I don’t even know how to play all of a sudden. But then all of a sudden you’re invited to join a challenge team.
So you’re traveling and playing. And then miracle of miracles, you make a Premier team. And then the ECNL come to you, where you’re going to represent our state around the country playing at that level. And then you are recruited for a Division 3 college team and then 2 and then 1. And you think you’re somebody. And then all of a sudden you play against a semi-pro team or a pro team. Or then you travel to another country and you realize we’ve never played soccer before.
It’s because there’s always these different levels. And it doesn’t matter what sport you’re in or musical instrument you play.
And even when you think you’ve gotten to the top, you start aging, and these youngins come up that do it way better than you. So what I believe Jesus is saying here at the end is, you who are riding on reputation, do you not realize you’re in the Y league. You’re worrying about what people think of you. You’re fretting.
We can’t go for marriage counseling, we’re Christians we’re supposed to have it together! I’ve been a Christian for decades. I can’t go to somebody in the church or in my life group and say, hey would you mentor me? There’s so much I don’t get. Would you pray for me? I am struggling. I got set free from porn years ago, and I’m slipping back into it. Help! I can’t do that. What would people think of me?
And Jesus is saying, what are you talking about? That’s Y league stuff. I will confess you before my Father and his angels. What are you living for? I died to wash you clean, to give you my life, not so you could bang around and worry about what people think on this level, but so that I could transform you and prepare you to be confessed before my Father and his angels. I have things for you that you can’t even imagine. But don’t try to ride on the past – what you think you’ve done or accomplished or the change that I’ve brought about. I’m not done with you.
I don’t mean that as a threat. Jesus is saying, you don’t even understand what I’m going to transform you into. And I’m not just changing part of you so that you won’t be an embarrassment to your friends. I’m changing you from the inside out. And I’m doing it in so many different ways. The things right now in your life that you feel maybe are the worst things are things I am using to transform you into my image.
So don’t ride on reputation. “He that has ears, let him hear. Let him hear.”
Last week we talked about Galatians 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh [which is just a big acknowledgment of our weakness], the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
He loves you, he gave himself for you. He has his life for you, and he is working it into you. He is calling all of us to believe that.
This passage, I warned you at the beginning, there are so many commands, a staccato of commands. We could all go away and say, “I don’t know what, am I supposed to wake up or watch out or follow through? I don’t know which to do.
And the point is, none of us can do that all. It’s Christ living in us as we fix our eyes on him. But the main thing he’s warning us here today is, if we’re riding on reputation, our eyes aren’t on Jesus, they’re on people. If we’re riding on reputation our eyes aren’t forward with what he’s doing and what we’ll do and embracing the transformation even the frustrating things he’s bringing to transform us. Our eyes are fixed on what we’ve done or who we think we are or what people think about us. So here’s the call to all of us. Will we die to our fake reputation to live to who Christ is and what he has for us?
Will we? At the end of your notes you’ll notice a place “You have the reputation of being ‘blank’, but this is really true.” You can actually work that out this week.
What do I tend to rely on? Who do I really think I am, and how is that not true from God’s perspective? But even now as we prepare to remember what Christ has done, let’s ask him to give us the grace to repent depending on our reputation and fix our eyes on Jesus.
Father, thank you for this hard word that you give because you love us, that you’re rescuing us from danger, and you’re bringing us to one day be confessed before your Father and the angels.
So now as this broken bread is passed, as this cup is passed representing your broken body, your shed blood, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, that it’s not us trying to work our way to anything. Lord we are turning from the things and people we depend on. We are fixing our eyes on you. Let us do that together. And for all whose faith is in you, let us enjoy this remembrance, receive this remembrance as from you, for our good, for your glory.
In Jesus name, amen.