June 2 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Lord, awaken me, you whose love burns beyond the stars; light the flame of my lantern that I may always burn with love. (A Traveler Toward the Dawn by John Eagan)
Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:1-6
Journal: How are you like the church at Sardis? How do the words to the church at Sardis speak to your heart today? How do the inspire you? How do they disrupt you? How do you need to “wake up?” What is dead in you that needs to be revived?
Reflection: A reputation is a powerful thing. Because a reputation (good or bad) is often not reality, but only someone’s impression of reality. And in our day and age - as well as that of the church at Sardis apparently - impression is everything. If you can create and maintain the impression you are hoping for then who cares what the reality is, right? Thus, impression becomes all about reputation management. What people think about you becomes more important than what the truth about you really is. As long as you can keep up the charade you are good to go.
But keeping up the charade can be exhausting and darn near impossible over time. Eventually someone is going to find out the ugly truth. There is always that one person in any crowd that is adept at spotting a phony. Someone who is somehow magically or supernaturally able to see right through the façade - right down to the core. And when this happens we are horrified. Because somehow our greatest fear - and maybe, at the same time, our deepest longing - comes true, we are exposed.
That’s how the church at Sardis must’ve felt. They had worked and worked at maintaining a good reputation, even though they knew deep in their hearts that there was no life in their souls. And here comes Jesus into the midst of the pretense, calling their bluff, and tearing their finely crafted costume to smithereens. At that point they must have been in scramble mode. I mean, what do you do? Deny it? Attack? Rationalize? Or do you resort to attack? What is the best strategy for damage control? How can we spin this so that our reputation - which we have worked so hard on - still comes out intact?
Or maybe there is another solution. Maybe we do exactly what Jesus is suggesting. Maybe we admit the truth. Maybe we come clean and stop trying to fool ourselves - an others. Maybe we take it as a wake-up call to start living an authentic life with God. Maybe we repent. Maybe we change our minds, our way of thinking, and begin to see everything differently. Maybe we realize that reality is more important than reputation and we start trying to be authentic people in Christ; more concerned with how we’re loving than with what people are thinking.
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
H. & L. serve in Asia by providing strategic leadership for colleagues serving in several major urban centers in Asia. Their role involves encouraging and coaching these co-workers in their ministries, as well as networking with others to make sure they have the resources and training that they need for their respective ministries. Pray today for H. & L. as they have recently returned to Hong Kong after some time in the U.S.
Logan and Melissa Keck are planting Christ the King, JP/Roxbury, in Boston. Pray with them today for encouragement during the summer months when attendance can be low. Pray that they would see consistency in attendance and tithing and that they would even see growth as new people are reached in the neighborhood. Pray also for Melissa’s pregnancy that everything will continue to go well.
Closing Prayer: Most Holy God, wake me up from my soul’s deep slumber and bring my life under your complete control. By your grace, awaken me daily to the reality of your presence within and around me. And, by the power of your Spirit, make me responsive to your will and your direction. Amen.