December 7, 2020
Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
The New Testament of the Bible is a marvel in so many ways. Those earliest, most immediate followers of Jesus—witnesses to his life, words, signs, deeds, miraculous works, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension—wrote it all down. They were in the
room on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon those awestruck apostles. From this greatest of all awakenings, the gospel rode on the wings of the wind of the Spirit into the streets of the city of Jerusalem and onward into all Judea and outward into Samaria and away to the ends of the earth.
Over two millennia later, this awakening message keeps on going, pursuing every heart, knocking on the door of every home, hovering with possibility over every church, compassing the perimeter of every city, leaving no stone unturned. At this point in history, twenty-one centuries later, billions of awakening stories cry out in the wake of the awakening movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yes, the New Testament of the Bible is a marvel, but from the very earliest days, before being bound in books called Bibles, before the ink could dry on the scrolls, we already see a stunning surprise: sleep. The awakened are slipping back into the slumber of sleep. Only thirteen chapters into the first letter in our Bibles, the one we call Romans, an alarm clock goes off:
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.
Do you remember when you first became a believer? Perhaps this awakening is afoot for the first time in your life now? Either way, if those earliest followers of Jesus could drift off to sleep at the wheel, couldn’t it happen to you? It’s not that we stop believing; we just drift off to sleep. Our belief becomes brittle. All the shiny new things ever about us and the subtle seduction of darkness can be almost overwhelming.
Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.
These days leading up to Christmas have a way of bringing brokenness to the surface. The buzz of another glass of bourbon and bottle of wine have a way of pushing it back beneath our awareness. Every day the world makes more and more provision for the flesh, more places to hide from the light. What if we took a different approach? What might it mean to stop fighting the darkness and instead simply “put on the armor of light”? The light hurts our eyes at first, but its gift is to give us vision.
Jesus stands at the door of Advent knocking, not to ruin Christmas parties but to bring the deeper celebrations we were made for. What would it look like to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in these days of Advent? It is as simple as opening the door and inviting him in. “I am the light of the world,” he said, “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). You can’t beat the darkness. He already has. Be it the first time or the thousandth, here are the words he’s waiting to hear from the voice of your deepest heart: “Come in, Jesus.”
Our Father in heaven, nearer than my breath, thank you for these days of Advent and this new year in Christ. Make them be for me days of awakening—to your good-ness, to your better-ness, to your best-ness. Wrap me in the armor of light. Come, Holy Spirit, wrap me in the arms of the life and love of Jesus and make me such a person of embrace for others. In the name of Jesus Messiah—the one who has come, is here, and is coming again—for his glory and our good, amen.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), how would you assess the sleepiness of your soul? Do you have a snooze-bar habit? Are you in hibernation mode? There is no shame in the honesty game, so be honest.
For the Awakening,