On April 6th, we will be hosting the annual Allegheny Regional Conference. I’ll be delivering the conference message, as the host pastor often does. The theme is, “Time to Wake up” taken from Revelation 3:2. If we back up to verse 1, we see why Jesus says the church needs to wake up. They have a reputation of being alive, but are dead.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spiritsof God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. “ (Revelation 3:1-2)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of a reputation, so I would like to unpack it some in this article. Everyone has a reputation. It is simply, “the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something” (online definition). A reputation typically leans one way or another, either someone thinks highly of you or not so highly. Therefore, it is important for a reputation to be accurate. Suppose we go to a doctor who everyone says is awesome. He’s really nice, knowledgeable, and takes great care of his patients. We would want and expect that to be our experience as well. If we find him to be a grumpy old man who only had 5 minutes for us, we’re going to be very disappointed. We’ll wonder what happened, was everyone mistaken, was it us, or did we just see him on a really bad day? Another thing about a reputation that is really relevant in today’s culture is how quickly it can be ruined. If someone has an issue with you or your business, they can take it to social media and really do some damage.
In Revelation 3:1-2, the reputation of the church among others was a good one. They had a reputation of being alive, that’s what we want, right? The only problem is the reputation was not accurate. Christ knew the truth. Which brings up another interesting point. Whose opinion really matters? We can convince the world that we are great Christians, that we are vibrant and alive spiritually, but at the end of the day their opinion doesn’t matter. We’re not going to stand before our one thousand friends from Facebook on Judgement Day, we will stand before God. We want to be careful when we evaluate our spiritual health and vibrancy. Let God be the judge, not the crowd. The good news is there is hope if we wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die. This was a warning for the church at Sardis. Warnings are good. They provide a second chance if we heed them.
How is your reputation, not with your friends and family, but with God?