I Know Your Works
In Revelation 3 Jesus says the following to the church in Sardis. “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.”
Have you ever noticed some of the language we use when identifying where we perceive other congregations of the Lord’s body to be? Some like to classify other groups somewhere on the conservative or liberal scale depending upon what they think they know about the group. You hear others talk about a group being a “sound” group.
I guess you could say that in some ways part of the problem the church faces today is that it’s members spend more time classifying other congregations than they do focusing on the local body that they are members of. What would we classify the congregation of which we are members? No doubt, as we naturally do with ourselves, we’d give it the best light. Sure we’d admit we’re not perfect and have room to grow but where are we really at?
The idea of a “sound” congregation implies that it is complete, mature, abounding in the work of the Lord. Often times we define a “sound” congregation only by what they’re not doing. What I mean is that as long as a group isn’t doing things they don’t have scriptural authority for they’re a “sound” group. Right? But what about all the things we should be doing.
Jesus says to the church that met in Sardis “I know your works…” That means that they some things going on. Even among the brotherhood and quite possibly the community Jesus reveals that they have the reputation of being alive. So, anyone from the outside looking in would say “oh, they’re a sound group.” Except that Jesus says while that’s the perception from the outside looking in, I can see past that and in reality you’re actually dead.
The reason given for their true condition was works that were not complete. “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Jesus’s admonition to these brethren was to wake up and strengthen themselves. Like the church that met in Laodicea who had some works they were found to be just “lukewarm.”
There are many things attacking the church from the outside in the world that we live in. Since before the establishment of the church Satan has been vigorously putting up attacks and since the establishment he hasn’t slowed down any. Unfortunately though, sometimes his attacks from the outside are only a smokescreen to cover up the real attack that is happening within.
We find ourselves defining what a “conservative”, “liberal”, or “sound” church looks like by our standards and by tradition and by personal opinion. We find ourselves in comfort zones and complacent with how things have been and currently are and even at times argue to stay there using spiritual arguments to justify it.
We all need to look to ourselves personally and within the congregations we each work and worship with and ask ourselves realistically “where are we at?” Are we alive or dead? What works are we diligent in? What works are we lacking in?
Instead of focusing on man’s definition of what the Lord’s church looks like, man’s standards of what defines conservative, liberal, or sound, look to God’s word and focus on His definition. Let’s not worry about being a conservative church, progressive church, sound church but instead worry about being the Lord’s church that He purchased with His blood and established by paying the ultimate sacrifice for. Let’s not worry about being a conservative or liberal Christian but rather be a true disciple of Jesus Christ and shine His light each day.
So is the congregation I worship with alive, dead, or lukewarm? Paul tells those in Ephesus that it’s when each part is working properly it causes the body to grow. I can’t answer for everyone in my congregation but I can answer that for myself. And when I answer that for myself I can then look to those that I worship and work with and encourage them each day to wake up and strengthen what remains and together we can help the body grow into Christ who is the head.