If I'm truly honest, I've felt lately like an alarm has gone off in my soul. It's been a sobering sound but also a ring of hope -- a wail of warning but also a cry of love. I believe it's been because things have been out of balance, priorities wrong, intentions misplaced. And God has been trying to get through to me. I've even recently written about it in this blog. And amidst it all, I've found myself identifying with what Jesus said to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6.
Jesus says there, "I know your works. You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead" (3:1). As a Christian of 33 years, and as a pastor, I know that to some I have a reputation of being spiritually strong. But God sees more than meets the eye, and when He says, "I know your works", He means that He sees what's really going on. If my devotional life with Him is languishing, He knows that the many pastoral sacrifices I may make are no more than works of my own doing and are therefore worthless. And what may look like a result of my life in God may actually be something squeezed out of a deadness in my soul due to a lack of time spent with Jesus. So Jesus sounds the alarm. "...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" (3:2).
Jesus lovingly offers such warnings because He sees that there's hope of recovery. I know that if I neglect my devotional life with God long enough, I can become quite useless to God. But it's as though God is saying, "There's still some life in you yet, but unless you strengthen yourself in Me, you'll end up way off course, never completing the things that I want you to do for Me!" Perhaps thoughts like those, and passages like Revelation 3:1-6, are meant to instill the fear of God in me so that I seek Him above everything else.
I've been reading a book recently called Discipleship on the Edge (by Darrell W. Johnson), and it has really challenged me. Here's a sample of it...
"Every congregation and every individual disciple is always on the brink of losing authentic spiritual life. Why?... Because of the nature of the Christian life. Because of the dynamics of the life into which Jesus Christ calls us. It is a life that can only be lived in relationship -- in relationship with Jesus through his Holy Spirit. It is a life we cannot live apart from him. It is a life we cannot sustain in and of ourselves. It is a super-natural life that requires regular super-natural resources. Drift out of, or ignore, or cut the relationship and the life drains away... ...'Apart from me you can do nothing' [John 15:5]. We can be busy and active. We can go through the motions. We can perform all the various duties associated with life in Jesus and do them all in such a way that we gain a reputation for being alive. But apart from intimacy with him, cut off from the vine, we die. It is as simple as that."
I'm grateful that though such potential choices may leave me "on the brink", God is so loving that He sounds the alarm when we get too close to the edge, and then He tirelessly helps us back to the center of His will for our lives.
© 2009 by Ken Peters