Overcoming and True Presence
But you have a few individuals in Sardis who have not stained their clothes, and they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers will be dressed like them in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. (Rev 3:4-5 NET.)
We all want to be more than we are. I don’t know anyone who looked in the mirror this morning and said, “Yup! That’s exactly what I would have ordered!” And we all know how to become more than we are: practice, training, exercise. God’s most amazing transformational work happens in those who surrender autonomy and participate in His program.
Right after that thought, though, I can imagine a serpent slithering in the branches nearby, pondering an offer. “Did God really say you need to be transformed? Did God
really say, ‘Be holy?’ Surely you do not need all that. You just need to look that way.”
True presence – authenticity – is when our reputation and our character are the same. The believers in Sardis has a rep for being alive, but Jesus says they’re pretty much dead. Hypocrisy – literally ‘playacting’ – is a huge temptation for us. We know our high calling in Christ Jesus, and only God knows better than we do how woefully short we fall from that calling. So, we figure, if we can’t be holy, at least we can look holy.
Nothing – NOTHING – is more dangerous to true life in God. We are incredibly gifted at self-deception, and the first person fooled by our hypocrisy is always ourselves.
If the sin in Sardis is that their reputation doesn’t match their character, those dressed in white are those who have not soiled their garments with hypocrisy. They have overcome, not necessarily by being paragons of moral virtue, but by being honestly desperate for fellowship, and by being truly present to their brothers and sisters in Christ. They have overcome by not withholding the healing that flows from God through the wounds of the saints. Jesus is proud to declare their name!
Oh how I pray for that day!
in HIS love,