Every Thought Captive

White Robes for Whitewashed Tombs

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: "The words of Him who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.

'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of My God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 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 3:1-6

If people took a trip to Dallas, what would they see? If they had never been here before, what would they notice? What would stand out to them? If they came from an entirely different culture, what would they see as they walked around and interacted with the locals? I imagine it would look something like this.

For the most part, they would notice beautiful yards – meticulously manicured with cut grass and seasonal flower beds. It is October, so many front porches would billow with pumpkins of every size, shape, and color. Some streets and some neighborhoods would look straight out of a magazine. The yards seem as lovely as the people who fill the homes. The people are polished and polite. They know the right pleasantries to say as visitors pass by. They are clean-cut and kind. Visitors would likely pass right through town and have nothing but lovely things to report.

If we’re honest, we like it this way. We value the appearance of having it all together. Yet there is a lot going on beneath the surface that people don’t see. The clean outward appearance is often a façade hiding our brokenness, anxiety, and addiction. We are lonely and wayward, but no one knows. Behind a beautiful appearance, there is a deep ache.

The church at Sardis was a picture of bounty and success. They had a great reputation. On the outside they looked the part, but on the inside, they were crumbling. Jesus’ charge to the church was to wake up and to remember: to remember the gospel, to push aside the appearance of having it all together, and to be transformed from people who were whitewashed tombs to people clothed in the white robes of Jesus.

What would it look like for us to admit that we are no different from the people of Sardis? We have the reputation of polished perfection, but on the inside, we can be dry bones. What if we lived in our neighborhoods authentically, honest about our mess, and grateful for our Savior? What if we moved into our schools, grocery stores, and workplaces with a heart of mission, longing for our neighbors to know the life-giving love of Jesus?

Friends, we are a beautiful mess. But so often the beauty camouflages the broken. Yet the Lord, in His kindness, brings beauty from ashes. Wake up! Repent! Be made new. There is freedom in stepping out of the whitewashed tombs of our culture and into the perfect white robe of our Savior.  

About the Author

Photograph of Ann Higginbottom

Ann Higginbottom

Ann Higginbottom grew up in Dallas and is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University. She met her husband Robby after college, and they enjoy raising their children in their hometown close to all family members. Ann is an author and photographer (www.annhigginbottom.com) and also devotes much time to Kershaw's Challenge, a charity that focuses on caring for vulnerable children worldwide.