My wife is an exceptional gardener. She had a vision of how she wanted our yard to look and has worked diligently (often 3 or 4 hours a day) for three years to transform our yard into a beautiful place with several flower gardens, one with a stone path.
When she first started, she rented a 1/2 ton dumpster because there were so many dead plants, weeds, and small trees that had to be removed. I told her that she had committed herbicide because she killed most of the wilderness that was our backyard. She still is a woman on a mission, and woe to any flora that stands in the way of her vision!
Jesus is a gardener
In a very real sense, Jesus is a gardener. He nurtures, He prunes, and He removes dead plants – vines to be specific. (Luke 13:6-9) A gardener must “come against” dead vines because they harm the fruitful vines. When it comes to Christ’s churches, dead churches harm His Church. Dead churches tell lies to lead people away from Truth.
From her founding, the Church has always been besieged by heresies, antichrists (1 John 2:17-19), and congregations that, with great zeal and reckless abandon, led people astray. So, what we see in our society is not new; it’s just more. Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun. Deceptive churches are not a new thing. It’s just that there are more of them, and they have cast off all constraints they previously had from God’s Word.
A message to the church in Sardis
In the opening chapters of the book of Revelation, Jesus tells the apostle John seven messages to be written to seven specific churches. Each message is to the angel of each church. Christ’s intended audience for each message was to the pastor and his congregation. Here is the message to the church in Sardis, located in what is now Turkey.
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.Revelation 3:3
During the early Church, Sardis was an important church. Jesus’ message to Sardis includes an analogy that the Sardinians would have immediately identified but is easy for us to miss.
There are mountains near where the city of Sardis was located. These mountains were the hiding places of organized robbers that would rush into the city to steal and then retreat to the mountains to hide. It’s quite likely that Jesus alluded to these thieves when He said, “I will come upon thee as a thief.“
We should not allow these dead churches to steal our joy. Here’s some good news:
– We should encourage each other and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
– We should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – Matthew 6:33
– We should make disciples in every nation – Matthew 28:19
That will keep us busy until we reach heaven and meet Jesus, face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). 😀