Christianity 201

September 20, 2021

A Call for Sleepers to Awaken

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:09 pm
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A year ago we introduced you to writer and photographer Lydia Shearin, who writes at Soli Deo Gloria. The blog is not currently active, but we found this one from February of this year. She begins with stories of morning wake-ups and then continues where we pick it up today. To read the whole devotional, click the header which follows.

Wake Up

I came across a passage in Revelation 3 that grabbed my attention, because I was reminded that individuals are not the only ones who need a wake up call in the mornings; churches do as well:

“To the messenger of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Revelation 3:1-3

Here in Revelation, the apostle John is given a vision in which Jesus himself speaks to the seven major churches of the time, offering them praise for their good works, and commands to change any ungodly behavior in the church. To Sardis, the fifth church, he gives a command that is relevant to the church of the world today: Wake Up!

How many churches today are just like Sardis, having a reputation as places of life, but which are truly filled with dead bones? How many churches are dwindling in size and power because their worship has become hollow and they have stopped relying on God to move? How many churches today have deeds that are ‘unfinished in the sight of God’? To how many churches is Jesus crying out, “Wake up! Don’t miss out on what I am doing!”

I would wager that their are more churches like Sardis than we think.

Just like my friend started out as a light sleeper, churches that are just planted can be awakened more easily; they are praying people, more in tune with the voice of their Father. But as a church grows, it has a tendency to become set in its ways, to become prideful in what God has accomplished through it, and little by little, the things that used to awaken the church from apathy are no longer effective. The whispers of the Holy Spirit are silenced. Wise counsel is ignored. The people become apathetic, treating church like a golf club or social group. So the question is, what does God have to do to wake up his church?

Whether he uses circumstances to shake us up, allowing (and in many cases, sending) disease, tragedy, famine, and political unrest, or whether he uses individual believers to spark a revival in churches, his message is always the same. In this passage in Revelation, God warns churches that if they stay asleep, they will die; they will not only miss the work God is doing today, but they will be shocked at the coming of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 echos this same warning:

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 (emphasis mine)

Here, Paul warns churches that Jesus is coming back any day, and they need to be awake and ready, lest they be caught off guard. There is no time for sleeping churches in God’s economy. There is no time for us to wrap ourselves in comfortable blankets of tradition and hit the snooze button when the Lord calls for action. We don’t have time to live in a dreamland of past successes when there are broken people in our own neighborhoods that need help right now!

Where are the Pastors who will pray on their faces at the altar for revival in their churches? Where are the church members who will surround their leadership in prayer and support? Where are the students who will share Christ with their friends at school because they can’t bear to be silent about the God who saved them? Where are the Mothers and Fathers who will raise up their children to follow the Lord?

Church, we have been sleeping for long enough. It is time for us to be unified in faith and love. It is time for us to seek the Lord. It is time for us to wake up.

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