That is how God sees us. He sees our inside as if it was the outside. Nothing is hidden, no matter how much we try to disguise it.
The church at Sardis had a name in the community for being alive, and yet they were dead. God instructed John to write to them and turn them inside out.
I wonder sometimes how many churches today would fare if they were turned inside out. What if we were known as God knows us. What if we were turned inside out?
Things That Are Ready to Die
Among the things God said to the church at Sardis was to strengthen the things that remained, that were ready to die. Isn’t that interesting? Over the years, several things had died in this church, but there was still some life left. God’s instructions were to take special care to tend to those things.
Many times, we see churches in this situation. Over the years, for various reasons, things may die. Ministries cease. Fires go out. Many times, a church ceases to be alive long before their name in the community catches up.
I wonder that God did not tell them what to do with the dead things. Perhaps this is because we are responsible for what is alive, but only God can raise things back to life.
Tending to Life
As a church, as well as individual Christians, perhaps we can take some instruction from God’s words to Sardis. Perhaps we should take inventory of our lives, and our ministries, and focus on the life that remains. If these things are not tended to, they may die.
It takes a lot of work to plant new life. It is impossible to raise the dead in our own strength. We should certainly seek to see new life develop, but I wonder about those things which still exist, but are ready to die? Why let those things go?
Sometimes a little pruning, a little fertilizing, a little watering and tender care, and before you know it the plant is healthy again.
I believe that God still desires to use us today. Are we perfect? Not by a long shot! Have some things died? Absolutely. Do we have areas of the garden that need tending to? You bet! Are we up for the challenge? Bring it on!
Let’s take an inventory of our lives and ministries. Lets pray, and work, and believe like never before. Let’s trust God to raise those dead things back to life, and let’s get busy tending the things that are still alive. Doing so will take constant effort, as well as a working strategy. In my opinion, that strategy is as follows:
- Focus on where the life is. Look at your life. Look at your church. Where is the life? Even if it is barely there, can you see it? That is the focus.
- Cut away the dead stuff. Sometimes you have to trim away the dead branches and clean out the dead leaves before you can really assess what needs to be done. Failure to do some necessary pruning can hinder the growing process.
- Provide proper nourishment. Sometimes plants just need a little more sun. Sometimes they need more water, or some specialized plant food. When you are trying to bring a plant back from the brink of death, you need to provide specialized care. If we are too aggressive, or not aggressive enough, we may fail. The same is true in our spiritual lives, and in the spiritual life of a church. Take some time and really figure out what is needed, and then focus on meeting that need.
- Seek guidance from a master gardener. Remember, our lives and ministries belong to the Lord. He knows exactly what is needed, and in what doses. When in doubt, ask for His help. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for His help, even when we think we know exactly what is needed. Doing so reminds us to whom the ministry belongs.
Where there is life there is hope. It is my desire to see the Lord transform my life and ministry. Therefore, I want to take stock of the things in my life or ministry that may need some focused attention. Let me encourage you to do the same!