Signs of Life Part 2
“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).
Jesus told the church in Sardis, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” You have great worship services with charismatic preaching and dynamic music. You have serious Bible studies. You have a rockin’ kids ministry. Your youth group checks every box. You have 80% of your congregation in small groups. Your website gets thousands of visits each month. Your podcasts are popular. Your YouTube channel is becoming an internationally recognized platform. Your worship team has its own album. Your pastors are published authors. Attendance is up. Giving is up. Business is good.
“You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Ouch!
Last week, I shared the first four of nine “vital signs” that a congregation or an individual disciple is spiritually alive. These signs of spiritual vitality come from Darrell Johnson’s commentary on Revelation, Discipleship On The Edge. This week, I will share the rest of the vital signs.
Sign 5: Compassion. You can’t read the Gospels without being confronted by the compassion of Jesus. He had compassion for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and especially for those who didn’t yet know him as Savior. When a church (or a disciple) loses its compassion for the world around it, that church (or disciple) loses its spiritual vitality. Do you see the world with compassion or contempt?
Sign 6: Reproduction. A spiritually alive church isn’t just growing in attendance but in new believers. Transferring disgruntled Christians from one church to another isn’t a sign of anything. But seeing the lost found and the lonely set in families… now that’s a sign of life!
Sign 7: Emotion, feeling, passion. British preacher G. Campbell-Morgan said, “I am alive. And because I am alive, I weep, I sing, I laugh, I mourn. It is the dead that have no tears, no laughter, no music, no mourning.” I’ve been in many churches where the congregation doesn’t sing. The music is a professional-level performance, but the worship is dead because that’s all it is—a performance. Lame!
Sign 8: A desire to be holy. A pastor once told me, “It’s time to stop worrying about what’s happening between the sheets and start caring about what’s happening in the streets.” As if God cares nothing for how we live! Following Jesus means obedience to God in every area of life—from the bedroom to the classroom to the break room to the board room, and every room in between.
Sign 9: The willingness to die. Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt 16:25). Churches full of spiritual vitality are also full of disciples who love Jesus even more than life. And because of that, they have found true life.