I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. - Jesus Christ to the Church at Sardis, Revelation 3:1
These are - or should be - chilling words from the Lord to one of his churches. Imagine having a name that you are alive. Everybody knows it. You are alive. Your reputation for being alive is widespread and everybody can relay this testimony further on down the line. But in reality you are dead. And only Jesus knows you are dead. And only Jesus tells you so.
His next advice to the church at Sardis is to wake up. It seems as if they are asleep and are content to live off of their reputation. They are asleep and their deeds are not complete. They are unaware of this.
Here's something to think about. The church at Sardis was greatly fortunate to have Christ himself explain their situation to them. He wrote them a letter from heaven. What can we say about churches today? Churches today don't have Jesus writing them new letters. We all have his letters to churches that existed in the past. Are these letters enough? Most of us would probably say that these letters in the bible are enough for churches today to learn their own situations. We can use them to examine ourselves. But what if nobody does? What if nobody is allowed to? What if there are no eyes in the body, or those eyes don't function? What if those who do examine the church come to realize a problem, but those people are silenced for saying so? What then?
The letters to the churches in the book of Revelation have always scared me for just these reasons. How do we know what Christ thinks of us? How do we know when Christ is about to remove a lampstand or come in judgment? How do we know when he is going to bless? We won't. And that's scary.