On our way to the sanctuary, my son expressed his dissatisfaction in that there was no Children’s Church today. He let out a big sigh and a huge moan…”Uggggggh!” I looked at him and said, “Son, do you think Jesus was up on that cross moaning saying ‘Uggggh…Do I really have to die for this kid?'” He quickly responded, acknowledging that his attitude was not one of gratitude. The sacrifice Jesus made was not one that was being appreciated by this little one this morning. There is nothing more important and sometimes I think we all have a tendency to lose sight of that in our tasks, lists, calendars, and traditions.
Sitting in church…looking around. There were so many faces this morning. In fact, there was barely an empty seat in the house. There was a children’s segment in which the gentleman speaking held up a mirror and said, “If you want to get an idea of what Jesus looked like…take a look.” He moved the mirror around to further illustrate that we are all made in His image. The children were dismissed and the sermon began.The sermon…salvation, resurrection, the sacrifice made as a gift by our Lord, Jesus Christ. As I listened, I glanced around. These faces reflect Jesus Christ? But, they all look so solemn. There were a few folks nodding off…my son next to me begging to go home because he’s tired…doodling…clock watching. Were some of them forced to come-maybe by a parent? Are they just here because “this is what we do on Sunday”? Then a smile. I saw her across the room…she’s smiling. Ah, yes. There’s a face that reflects my Jesus! Right on cue, my son looks up at me and asks, “Mom, why are you so happy?”
As I looked around that sanctuary the words “Wake up and strengthen what remains” keeps echoing in my head. I know these words. They are from Revelation 3.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 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. 5 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. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
This church at Sardis had been on the right track, but maybe their motives and actions became a little cloudy over time…possibly some became distracted while others held fast. They started the race strong, but some were not keeping pace and were at risk of not finishing well. They were being told to grab ahold of the good stuff they were still doing for God and strengthen those things.
All of these faces around me…no smiles…all sitting and watching…some listening…and I just wanted to stand up and shout “WAKE UP!! This is our God we’re talking about here!” Have we forgotten? Are we distracted? Remember God’s sacrifice because He loves me…because He loves you. This is a time to be joyful! When I hear about being made in His image- it makes me want to reflect Him even more. I am what the people around me see…reflecting Him is a tall order. But, if that is the way my neighbor may see Christ (in my actions and attitudes) then I need to do it well. I am positive that there are days that His light doesn’t shine as brightly through me…but, that is ONLY because I have become distracted or self-absorbed in the moment. It’s a “too much focus on me” problem…and “not enough focus on Him” problem. This is yet one more thing I need to be aware of. Always aware of His love for me…His grace and mercy…His sacrifice.
Sitting in church…smiling…beaming…singing loudly…because He died for ME. I want to be the face that reflects my Lord. I have nothing to fear, nothing can shake me because my faith is in Christ alone, there is no place I’d rather be.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
This morning, I read a devotional that fit perfectly with the experience I had that Sunday. This devotional pointed to the “product label” on foods in the supermarket and in restaurants. The question posed was “Have you ever considered the product label we wear as believers?…is our behavior consistent with God’s presence in our lives?”
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
My product label says that I am His, but am I outwardly reflecting Christ or receiving and exuding the fruits of the Spirit? Or is my Christianity just a label on a cardboard box?