Everybody loves alarm clocks, right? Well, sometimes we love to hate them, but that’s not the whole truth! Alarm clocks are all around us, and that’s a good thing. We’ve got the usual ones by our bedsides (phones now!), some have the little living ones (babies), and we all have internal ones (hunger, for instance). Unsurprisingly, we find Bible passage alarm clocks, too. You know the ones, right? They typically hold this kind of theme: Wake up! Stay awake! Watch out! Revelation 3:1-6 is an alarm clock passage. Jesus says to the church in Sardis, “Wake up.” But wake up from what? Jesus tells us that, too.
Jesus calls his people to wake up from playing the part. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1b). How’s your marriage? Fine. How was your week? Fine. How are you doing? Fine. Sometimes we hide behind short-answered lies that cause long-lasting rifts with the people closest to us—including God!
Jesus calls his people to wake up from works righteousness. “For I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2b). Works righteousness is the conception that we need to do something to attain salvation. It’s the idea that we need to have it all together before coming to church. This is not the Gospel, which is Jesus Christ alone saving his people. Derek Thomas over at First Pres Columbia says it like this, “Industry in itself is of no value.”
Jesus calls his people to wake up from sin itself. “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments” (Revelation 3:4a). There are a few names there who haven’t soiled their garments, which means there are many who have. Soiled garments, defilement, and sin puts us in a comatose state. It can freeze us. Think back to a sin you committed that required you to “own up.” Did you gleefully skip over to the party you sinned against, or did you drag your feet? Did you drag your feet for so long that you never confessed? Coma! Frozen!
How do we wake up? We wake up by God’s grace! We wake up by Jesus revealing himself to us! “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars” (Revelation 3:1). Jesus comes with words of revelation. “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Revelation 3:5, 6). Jesus comes with words of Good News—a never-blot-your-name-out kind of love. That is very Good News! That is a very good alarm clock!