the walking dead. And Revelation 3


Being a huge movie buff, I really dig watching the old scary films from the sixties. One of my favorites is probably “Night of the Living Dead.”  You know the deal- the zombie movies where the blonde is running up the hill to escape them, and suddenly her heal snaps. She looks by to behold a hundred zombies moving slowly coming to get her. They are the walking dead. No life, no zest, just animated corpses.  Recently my husband and I started watching AMC’s The Walking Dead. I feel it has a prophetic call to us. Even though, it’s a horror show. How many of us our dead?

Death comes on us without realizing it and if we don’t fight for our lives we will be just that- animated corpses. Looking to the bible, we see Jesus talking and warning one of the seven churches in Asia about this.  Revelation 3:1-6.

Scripture:

Rev 3:1-6 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.[a] 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You[b] have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

Exposition: historical context.

Ok, so during this time- scholars suggest that John wrote the book of Revelation probably in 95 AD- all kinds of crazy stuff was happening. Imagine with me for a sec. So Jesus came and died and rose again somewhere around 33 or 36 Ad. Basically, you then have these disciples chilling out in Jerusalem waiting on the Holy Spirit. Bam, that happens and they begin to go out and witness and evangelize. Paul pops on the scene and does his business telling peeps about Jesus all around Greece and Asia Minor. There were some awesome miracles happening. Peeps were digging the message of Jesus and receiving it with joy! Whole towns were nearly converted. Now, like 30-40 years after Paul and the other apostles had laid the foundations for these churches with miracles and wonders,  a completely new and separate generation had come up not really maintaining the level of fervor- well. in Sardis anyways. There were other churches at the time when John wrote Revelation who were severely being persecuted.

But NOW Sardis was just a dead church. Sardis had a rich history, and had previously been known for its wealth and prestige. It had a reputation among other cities of living voluptuously.

Living large. Big balling, spending G’s.

I am not sure if you guys remember the old tell about King Midas- ya know the Midas touch- when the dude touched anything it turned gold. Well, supposedly this dude ran out of hand sanitizer. So, one day he washed in the river that ran along side of Sardis. And legend has it, this is where the gold in Sardis originated from. Sardis was a “money” kind of place. The first coins in all of antiquity were minted here. One of the big export items from Sardis was this dark illustrious cloth, dark black, beautiful and costly. Today if we want some hot new dress we dip down to Forever 21 or Dillard’s, but back then the traders would have bought the fabric for your little black dress in Sardis. The city was once the home for a temple devoted to Artemis, and the Caesar cult was pretty big back in the day- so it’s thought that even Diocletian or Vespacian had a temple there. Both of these emperors were known for their persecution of the church.  Not to mention there was the LARGEST synagogue found in all of Asia Minor there. This synagogue has inscriptions of all the donors who made wealthy contributions to it all around. So this town had a reputation from the past, but now it was pretty much in ruins. A giant earth quake had hit it and damaged most of it.  Yet people still looked back on their hay-day. There was even a joke that went around about Sardis. You see one King, Croesus, was super prideful and thought Sardis was basically impregnable. He thought that no one could or would dare scale her walls or defeat her. But, he misjudged Cyrus. This dude came and conquered the city, because they were “asleep” and not on guard for an attack. The moral- WAKE UP! always be on your toes…ready to fight. This is funny, because we see that later the church at Sardis had fallen asleep again. They had been part of this major spiritual influx, when the apostles came through. This awesome thing happened and they were on fire, telling peeps about Jesus and serving, but basically over the time span of thirty or forty years, their zeal for Jesus had deteriorated just like the broken down temples and tumbled pillars that fell down the hills during the earthquake. Oh and Now in 2013, the once great city of Sardis is all but ruins, just some farmers with some thatched huts and memories alone survive.

 Rev 3:1-6 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘these things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.[a] 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You[b] have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

 

Application:

There are so many lessons to be learned from Sardis:

 

SELFISHNESS LEADS TO DEATH.  The people of Sardis were selfish. They were all about running around like zombies spending their money on little black dresses and the latest gadgetry. They never considered giving to the poor or helping the homeless. They were basically full of themselves and thought they were holy on top of it, because they went to church and had a great praise band with cool haircuts.

This consumerism mind set- of being entertained and made happy- ran through their pews.   Sounds a lot like us right? Let’s all go to the mall and buy some new threads and kicks and download some killer tunes to our ipods. We are all so cool and holy because we have fish bumper stickers on our cars and we go to the church with the awesome light show during worship.  Materialism poisons our hearts. We get so caught up in the gaining of new things that we lose focus on justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God.

And we become apathetic. We don’t even care about the bigger picture. We get so into our own worlds that we don’t give a crap about everybody else.

Illustration: Kurt Cobain said “My generation’s apathy. I’m disgusted with it. I’m disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.”

Why don’t we stand up for the underdog?

Why can’t we be like Jesus?

Well, we have too many episodes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Sex and the city” to watch and eat “Cheetos.”

We sit for too long and we become “Comfortably Numb” just like the Pink Floyd song.  We aren’t receiving any pain, the pain of the world, because we have blocked it out with all our toys and entertainment that literally drug us up from the real hurt. We come to church and we go home. We aren’t changed really. I mean we might give $1 to the missionary and listen to “third day” but we aren’t acting like Jesus while we stuff our faces with prime rib from Outback and ignore people who are going hungry in the world. We are comfortable,

sitting in the pew-

Because it’s really cushy and the surround sound is awesome in the sanctuary- I can really praise Jesus in this air-conditioned 4 million dollar entertainment complex- but don’t ask me to help out with the food pantry or the rape crisis center, it might interfere with my morning “latte” me-time or I might have to reschedule my weekly manicure. Somebody might even accuse me of being a social justice person or a liberal. Plus some of those people who come might be dirty or stinky or worse, gay.

As Christ followers, we are called to be transformed and not conformed to world patterns of isms,

that create schisms,

leading to oppression

and division.

We should therefore, serve and not think that everything is “all about me.”

We think we aren’t called to serve.

We think that’s just reserved for Missionaries, Preachers, or Peace Corps workers. Nope it says in the BIBLE that we all are called. And called to GO…and make disciples. NOT Sit and be entertained. “HERE WE ARE NOW- ENTERTAIN US.”

We all have to help fight the walking dead. We have been bystanders too long. We turn on CNN or Fox and just blank out to the world. We only want celebrity gossip, anyways. We don’t even flinch at the hundreds in Africa who starve every day. We’d like to argue about theology on Facebook instead of serving the needy. Or maybe watch Justin Beiber instead of visiting the sick or the prisoner.

Still there are others of us who sit comfortably in yesterday. Like Grandpa who remembers buying a coke for a nickel on the first date he and grandma shared. Or, like how he walked from and to school everyday three miles in the rain or snow.  Remembering what God did back in 1978 with such and such revival or how so and so got saved and were on fire, is fine and dandy. BUT, don’t put God in the 1970’s box. WE HAVE LET THE FIRE ALL BUT DIE! We should blow fresh oxygen on these fires! We must not worry about yesterday’s revival. We might be missing out on the one at hand today! Revival doesn’t have to look like it did in the 1960’s or late 1980’s.  God is not held back by certain stiles of music- Like the Holy Spirit only ministers to people when they have made a Jericho march around the church and sang choruses until their nose turned blue. NO. God isn’t limited to our traditions or cultures. Maybe there’s a revival happening where people are singing scream-o or even wearing baggy pants…oh yeah, God forbid a revival started in a bar! It might not look like God to us, but how dare we judge it. What if its in coffee houses, bars, and street corners. What if it looks tattooed or pierced, or punk rock?

WE MUST WAKE UP, DEAD!  We must restore what we have left. We can repent from our actions and our insensitive hearts! We can pray that God change us to real Christ followers instead of Nominal Christians. We must pray that Christ gives us his eyes to see the oppressed and his hands to help them!  We must strengthen what remains in our churches by reviewing our call to be Church instead of just doing Church. We should look at the dreams and visions he gave us! We must pray, more and more. We must become people of action! We must fully digest Scripture! Some of us have been hurt by scripture by ignorant people hurling verses into our lives without relationship. Some of us have a disdain for the Bible because of fundamentalists or literalists interpretations. We can learn to interpret scripture in its historical context and be free from legalistic religion to see a fresh and liberating narrative.

If we do not wake up we will be like those zombies.

Walking around dead.

Having a form of life but not really.

You can’t help anyone when you’re a zombie. You can’t really worship the Lord when you’re a zombie.  YOU walk around in a daze seeking your own will.  AND THIS BOOK IS SCREAMING TO US TODAY- TO WAKE UP DEAD!

 

 

Closing:

SO WAKE UP! Restore yourselves. Pray for personal revival. Repent from our selfishness.

Suppose we wake up tomorrow with zombies everywhere. Would you fight, or just give into the brain eating dead walk? Would you save others from the walking dead?

 

Seize the day, make the most of opportunity.

WAKE UP DEAD, WAKE UP!

In closing, please begin to write down your answers to these questions:

What things in your life contribute to death?

What makes you feel too comfortable?

Do you look back on days of old and think those were the glory days?

What new thing could God be doing?

What areas do you feel you need to wake up?

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Prayer: Hey Jesus, Thank you for your words. Help us to live fully alive. Help us kill our own inner zombie, by strengthening what remains. Wake us up to the pain of the world, and restore us to good deeds. Help us to love you fully and to love our neighbors. In the name of the Resurrected Christ, Amen.

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