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Guard your souls

Guard your souls

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The majestic city reveled and held court high upon a mountain ridge not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Like a citadel guarding the long plains of Hermus, she enjoyed her role as the untouchable princess of the kingdom.

In a world where the brilliant and powerful Greeks influenced and controlled, Sardis proudly refused to be seduced and dominated. And for hundreds of years this city, affluent and free, stood untouched and proud.

Until the greatest and richest Sardian king, Croesus, plummeted into disaster. It is told that an old sage warned the king that he must be vigilant. He said that the people were no longer strong and independent but soft and degenerate. We might call them “fat and flabby.”

The city’s residents were more concerned with pleasure than being people of purpose. The king was more concerned with power than being a ruler of prevailing good in his world.

Sadly, it was that lust for power that sucked Croesus and his armies off of their mountain splendor and into the valley in an attempt to conquer Cyrus of Persia.

However, the Sardian army was as “fat and flabby” as the city dwellers, so they were quickly routed and they retreated back to their invincible fortress. King Croesus seemed unconcerned. He thought they could take some time to rest and regroup. He reasoned that they would go back out to conquer Cyrus at their leisure.

However, Cyrus followed them back to their city on the hill, attacked unsuccessfully and camped around the city for 14 days. It seemed impossible to get to the city as only steep embankments led up to the tall guarded walls that protected the city.

Finally, Cyrus offered a reward to the first man who could find a way into the city.

Historians record that Sardis was built on a mountain of rock that closely resembled dried mud. That mud-rock mountain naturally developed cracks. One of the soldiers camped outside the walls discovered a large crack that ended at a city wall. On a dark night this soldier led some of the most agile troops up the crack in the rock.

Of course, the soldier expected to find a full defense ready to attack but instead the battlements were unguarded.

The city was invaded and fell to an invading army.

This great city, maybe the greatest of the region, capitulated because they had become complacent. They became so enthralled with the wealth and the ease of life that they became soft and dull.

Isn’t that so easy to do?

We live, by world standards, a very affluent life. It is spooky simple to become comfortable with our lives. Honestly, we have more than we need. We can be entertained for hours by simply picking up a remote or clicking onto Netflix. We eat too much rich food, invest in cushy recliners and medicate any uncomfortable “ache” with Ibuprofen or fancy-labeled wine.

Like King Croesus, we are unconcerned with the flabbiness of our resolve and find retreating and “resting” an acceptable way to maintain influence and power in a world determined to sneak up on us.

We cannot become complacent about our freedom to worship or our right to have a voice in the fray of eroding ethics.

We cannot let the walls of our personal integrity go unguarded just because we’ve never had “problems” before.

The fall of the beautiful city Sardis reminds us that it is no faux pas that to “keep watch, be alert, stay awake” is the most reoccurring imperative in the New Testament.

Be aware, be vigilant, be attentive.

Guard your souls, diligently and resolutely. Be sure that there is an enemy exploring the ramparts.

Larry and Linda Kloster sponsor this column.

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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