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Signs of Life Part 1
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead’” (Revelation 3:1, ESV).
The first time I went turkey hunting by myself, I shot a bird and it went down immediately. Heart pounding with excitement, I leaped up and ran to get my turkey. As I was coming up to the animal lying on the ground, it suddenly sprang up and tried to run away, scaring me half out of my pants! The turkey was injured and didn’t get far before my 12 gauge finished him off.
My turkey looked dead but was really alive. Jesus told the church in Sardis the opposite: “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” A busy church isn’t necessarily a church that is full of the Spirit. Things might look good on the surface, but the congregation could be spiritually dead beneath the veneer of Christian activity.
In his commentary on Revelation, Darrell Johnson lists nine “vital signs” that a congregation or individual disciple is, in fact, spiritually alive.
Sign 1: Confessing that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:1-3). If Jesus is not the focal point in the life of a church or a disciple, it’s like looking for a pulse but not finding it. Jesus is enough. If we need something more, we’ve missed the point.
Sign 2: Calling the holy, sovereign, awesome, majestic Creator “Abba” (Rom 8:16). Abba is the Aramaic word for “Poppa” or “Daddy.” When we’re living in the Spirit, we see God as the loving, tender, strong, gentle Poppa that he is. How do I relate to God? As Master, King, Lord, Sovereign (and he is all those things)—or as my Poppa?
Sign 3: The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:16-25). Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do those words describe you and the people in your church?
Sign 4: Unity (John 13:35). One really important point here: unity is not uniformity. It’s not unity to say we all vote the same and dress the same and look the same, therefore we like each other. That’s just uniformity. Unity is saying we might vote differently, dress differently, like different things, look different, and have different backgrounds, but we love each other deeply. When a church has that, they have something really special… the Holy Spirit pouring the love of God into their hearts.
I try to keep these devotionals under 500 words (not always successfully). So, I’m going to pause here and bring the rest of Johnson’s vital signs next week. I think there’s enough to chew on already!