by Kristen C. Strocchia
“Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:4-6
Archaeological finds show that the Jews in Sardis had also died spiritually, being absorbed by the culture in order to get along. They had written their names on the synagogue pillar, but they’d written them in Greek–the language of the dominant culture rather than their own Hebrew. They decorated their altar to God Most High with a carved Roman eagle rather than the scripture prescribed adornments or lack thereof.
But there were in Sardis, as in every situation, outliers. Christians who firmly held to the exclusivity of Jesus as Lord. They had not crawled through the drainpipe of the world and filthied their clothes with half-truths and hidden faith. Yet, even to those who had become so stained, Jesus shows Himself merciful. He promises those who have never compromised the truth and those who had compromised but chose to get their message back on track that they would all walk the victor’s lap with Him, dressed in white robes the way that athletic victory processions of the arena.
Moreover, those who victoriously proclaimed Jesus–and no other–as Lord, would never have their name removed from the heavenly citizenship registry in the Book of Life. This may be an allusion to the Synagogue registries which served to protect Jews from Rome. But as the Jews wanted to distinguish themselves from the Christian sect, they crossed out the names of followers of Christ. But Jesus said He would never remove their names, never exclude in them from eternal life. In fact, Jesus would even personally acknowledge them–like an introduction at court–when He stood before God and the heavenly hosts.
In American culture today, this promise might sound like rings *as in Super Bowl* all around and you get to run out onto the field with our MVP, Jesus. But then you also are guaranteed acknowledgment at the State of the Union Address before Congress and the media-reachable world, and–most poignant to the many refugees in our time–eternal citizenship in peace-filled land.
It’s a wonderful promise for all people of any time. But it comes at the price of acknowledging Jesus as Lord–not waffling on His message of exclusivity.
Is there an area of cultural pressure in your life that has you waffling on your message? Or a part of Jesus message that you’re willing to remain silent on? As Jesus said to the Church in Sardis, strengthen your faith in Christ, sure up this compromised faith issue so that you too can take the victory lap in heaven.