Do you know that feeling when you don’t hear the alarm in the morning and you are late to get to work or an appointment? Some people hear the alarm and keep pushing the snooze button. Are you one of those people? My son was having trouble hearing his alarm so I went online and bought him a sonic alarm clock. The thing sounds like a train right next to your bed. Did this get him out of bed in the mornings? Not always.
The Church at Sardis was sound asleep, as well. How does a church fall asleep? We all know what it like to fall asleep during one of Dave’s sermons , but how does a whole church fall asleep? I think sleep in this passage is a metaphor for coasting or resting on one’s laurels. It seems that this church was once a very happening place to be, the Spirit of Jesus was moving, and many people were being transformed. And yet, after some time, something happened or rather, didn’t happen. Did they get tired, bored, or distracted? Did they get busy, burned out, or off-track somehow? They may have been like the middle-aged people whom Bruce Springstein sings about in his song, “Glory Days.” High school football champs, who now, in their 40’s, sit and watch football from the safety of their favorite recliner. Or maybe they were simply mistaken and misjudged how long the battle would take, like George W. Bush on the naval battleship declaring “Mission Accomplished!,” when it actually took several more years of war in Iraq. No matter what the reason, Jesus quite directly tells the Church at Sardis to “Wake Up!” and strengthen what remains.
I think we all know what is like to go through ups and downs in our spiritual life. I don’t think that is what Jesus is concerned about here. The Church of Sardis seems to be content that they were once actively on mission for God in the world. There was a time when they heard the Word gladly and were obedient. But those days are now a distant memory. This passage reminds us that Jesus wants us to possess a current, contemporaneous, in-the-present-moment faith. Past accomplishments and obedience are great. God will not forget our faithfulness. But God also wants us keep our fire of love and obedience burning. So, “Wake up, Wake up.. you sleepy heads. Get up, Get up, Get out of bed!”