Unos, Dos, Tres, Catorce . . . ?


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you. 

Jesus, We belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Romans 7:14–20 (NIV)

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.


“Hello. Hello. I’m at a place called Vertigo. It’s everything I wish I didn’t know.”

Those words capture the chorus in a song of recent years by one of the greatest rock stars of our time—Paul David Hewson, also known as, “Bono,” of the band U2. 

Today’s text gets us into the full melody of this place we have been calling Vertigo—this no man’s land between the occupied territory of Sin and the promised land of Grace. 

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

If that’s not a state of vertigo, I don’t know what is. Now, can we be really real here? 

The best Romans scholars and commentators tell us Paul is not using the word “I” for himself but as though he were speaking for a hypothetical other. They also tell us Paul is not describing the Christian life in Romans 7 but rather the state of a pre-Christian person who is likely Jewish or who considers themselves a Christian while still trying to appropriate transformation by faithfulness to the Law.

For what it is worth, here is what I think. Certainly, I don’t doubt Paul was dealing with Jewish members of the church who did not yet truly understand the gospel. While this particular audience is not so common among us now, I believe our churches are filled with these same kinds of people. I would call them functional Christians. They are doing their best to get with the program, follow the rules, practice spiritual disciplines, study the Bible, raise their children to believe and behave, help people in need, give to charities, tithe to the church, go on the occasional mission trip and otherwise do the things good Christian people do. And yet when the road meets the rubber, after years of doing this, they are still struggling with the same sin patterns, living with a scarcity mentality, judging other people for the things they most dislike about themselves, keeping score, holding grudges, blaming, shaming, withholding, and stonewalling their spouses, and I could go on but you get the point. 

In other words, we are still living too much in the overlap of sin and grace. Sin persists as an undefeated enemy. And when functional Christians are really honest (which is not often because they mostly lack the context to do so), they say things like this:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

They find themselves regressing in faith as a result of a lack of progress or because of besetting sin, infirmity, affliction, or addiction, which they can’t seem to beat. And I’m not trying to say what I am calling a “functional Christian” is not a Christian, because I know too many people who are definitely bonafide Christians who are living at this address. I myself have lived at this address before as a Christian and even still on occasion find myself visiting this old place. I think what I am saying, to borrow another classic lyric from Bono, is we get “stuck in a moment we can’t get out of.” 

And the bottom line of all this “functional” faith is it has a way of leading us deeper into “Christianity” (or worse “churchianity”) and often further away from Jesus himself. It’s why I feel much of what I am trying to do here on the Wake-Up Call is to try and strip away so much functional religion and bring us back to the primitive faith of the gospel himself: Jesus. 

Back to the U2 song, “Vertigo.” It opens with Bono’s voice counting in Spanish: Unos, Dos, Tres, Catorce. For the non-Spanish speakers, that is one, two, three, fourteen. Well, that’s interesting; why from three to fourteen? This is how a master poet works, through signs and symbols. Many believe (present company included) Bono is pointing to the ancient stations of the cross. Yes, there are fourteen of them. The song ends with the lyric,

“Your love is teaching me how to kneel.” 

And that’s what we do at the cross, over and over and over, station after station after station. We kneel. And as we kneel with Jesus, he consecrates us. 

That is the only way out of vertigo. Kneeling with Jesus in consecration. 


Yes, Lord Jesus, can we strip it all away except this simple place of kneeling with you at the cross, where we learn to behold you until we find ourselves being transformed by the renewing of our minds to become like you? Can it become that simple for us again? Indeed, your love is teaching us how to kneel. I am so weary of the vertigo and I want to believe it will eventually go away. I am learning it leaves only to the extent you stay. You are my balance, Jesus. Yet it doesn’t look like a balanced life. It looks like the cross; not trying harder but death and resurrection. Come Holy Spirit and interpret this great mystery of consecration into my everyday life. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen. 


What insights come to you from today’s entry? What are the implications of those insights? What holy intentions are beginning to form deep in your soul? How can they be enacted most simply? 


It’s time to sing “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” again. Thank you, Fanny Crosby. It is hymn 241  in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Let’s sing it in a spirit of simplicity; of humble and holy desperation. 

And if you are up for an adventure, give a listen to the U2 song, “Vertigo” here

For the Awakening,

J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

2 Responses

  1. JD, you nailed it today for me. I also follow some other Christian blog sites. As a seeker of Truth, I search for consensus. What Today’s Wake-up Call confirms, is in perfect alignment with a former AOG pastor’s central theme. He constantly quotes John the Baptist’s statement where John is told that Jesus is drawing away some of his own former disciples. John’s reply contained these words, “He (Jesus) must become greater, I must become less.” This, in my opinion sums up the key to effective growth into the full stature of Christ. We must eventually, completely die to Self in order to mature into our calling. So it’s not a matter of trying harder, no, it’s all about greater submission.

  2. Churchianity

    From heel
    To toe
    Pride says no.
    I might play
    The part
    To look good
    In church,
    But I’ll not kneel
    My heart
    To Jesus.

    People love to say “I’m a good person,” because most of us want people to think we are good, but our secret inner struggle with shame, sin, and guilt says that we’re not as good as we say we are.

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