By Rick Cowman
There was a TV program on in the 1950’s called, “To Tell The Truth.” As many of you will remember (and I’m dating myself by bringing it up), the program opened with three people who claimed to be the same person, someone with a unique life story or career. At the beginning of the show, the announcer would ask each of them, “What is your name, please?” Then each of the three would profess, “My name is….” The object was for a celebrity panel to ask each of the guests questions about themselves, and then try to guess which one was “telling the truth” about their identity. At the end of the show, the host would ask, “Would the real (the guest’s name) please stand up!”
Do the people around you and me know our true identity? Do our lives tell the truth, that we belong to Jesus? Do our lives announce that we bear His name? Can the world tell we are the Church of Jesus Christ by what they know about our lives and by observing our actions? There are basically two reasons people don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in this country. The first reason, he says, is they have never met a Christian; the second reason is they HAVE met a Christian! What he’s saying is (and I agree), most people don’t reject Jesus Christ, they reject poor caricatures of Jesus! They think to themselves, “Why would I want to be a Christian?” And they ask that question because they’ve never seen the reality of the life of Christ lived out in anyone they know!
We come to the church in Sardis in Revelation chapter 3, and in verse 1 Jesus says to them, “I know your deeds! You have a name which says you are alive, but you are dead!” What an indictment that was for this church, and for us, if the shoe fits. In chapter 2, we read the Lord Jesus “walks among the churches.” And as He walked through this church, He found nothing good. He could find no life at all in this assembly. They had the name “Sardis Church of Christ” and called themselves “Christians”, but there was no evidence of His life there! The people were totally devoid of life and power that comes from a vital relationship with the living Christ, and therefore, they were without any kind of powerful witness to the world.
Friends, the Church, those who assemble together in the name of Jesus Christ, should be the very center of life and light in this world! John 5, verse 24, says as believers we have “passed out of death into life!” But to look at some Christians (let’s look at ourselves first), it would appear that some of us have just “passed out!” Romans chapter 6 encourages us to “walk in the newness of Christ’s resurrection life (vs 4)!” But too many of us choose to lay down and play dead. I’ve been fascinated all my life with Paul’s words concerning his greatest desire in life: “That I may know (Jesus) and the power of His resurrection life (Phil. 3:10)!” His prayer was that the abundant, power-filled life of Jesus would be a reality in his own life. This should also be our prayer.’
As the church, we gather together “in the name of Jesus”, a name which declares we are alive! But so many churches appear to be more dead than alive. We get in the rut of going through the form of church and deny the very life and power of the One whom we say we are coming to worship. Unfortunately, we can think everything is fine and are convinced God must be pleased with our religious ritual, and all the time Jesus is walking among us, saying, “You think you are alive, but you are dead!”
The question we are faced with is, “What can we do about it? How can we restore life to the church and to us as members of Christ’s church?” Next week we’ll begin to answer these questions from the Scriptures! God’s best until then!