Did you go to a graduation this spring?
Revelation 3:4-6 describes a graduation ceremony. You can – or at least I can – almost hear Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance as we read this passage. Give it a try yourself:
“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.He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:4–5 NIV)
Can you hear it?
Daaa, dum de dum daaa, dum.
Daaa, dum de dum, daaa.
Can’t hear it? Perhaps I had better elaborate.
This passage records a letter Jesus has written to the church at Sardis. He is not happy. The church believes that they are the cat’s meow because of their fine reputation. In fact, they are like potted plants left unwatered in the blistering sun. They are wilted and close to death. They need to repent and now. Yet for all that, a few people in the church are worthy of the name Christian. They are not perfect, mind you. They have sinned and will do so again. What makes them worthy in their Lord’s eyes is that they are faithful to his calling. They may stumble, but they repent, ask for help and receive it from the Lord. They are living for him.
When the Lord returns those who are faithful, like the few in Sardis, will be dressed in white and they will walk with the Lord. He will then declare their names before God in heaven, for their names are written in the book that resides there. This is what the graduation ceremony of believers will be like.
What happened at the last graduation ceremony you attended? The high school graduations here in Montgomery County, happen at DAR Constitution Hall near the White House. The graduates file in, but only after their grades have cleared them for graduation. I remember that being something of a close call in my case. Then, as names are called, the individual graduates walk across the stage while family members cheer (even though they had been told to hold their applause until the end). A photo is taken while the grad simultaneously shakes hands with the principal and receive the diploma. The ceremony states that these are worthy of being called graduates of Montgomery County Public Schools. And as the commencement speaker no doubt would have said a few minutes earlier, their lives are just beginning.
What Jesus describes in Revelation 3 is quite similar. In ancient Rome, victorious generals would be given a triumph, a ceremonial parade into the city. In his glorious return, those who have remained faithful to Christ will parade into the heavenly city dressed in white, behind the Rider of the white horse. Then before all, Jesus will state that we belong to him and he will point to our names in the book. And our lives will begin.
As we wait for that day, let’s do what that faithful few at Sardis did and keep our GPAs up. Let’s live for Jesus.