Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sleeping Through a Revolution

“Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph_5:14).

Epic change is in the air while many have dozed off, seemingly oblivious to God . Perhaps we may be like Peter, James and John when the Lord invited them to a private prayer meeting on top of a mountain.

By the time Peter, James and John made the climb, they were so tired that they fell asleep while Jesus was praying. And as they were sleeping, two other invited guests arrived – Moses, and the Prophet Elijah!  Jesus was delighted to see them, and they began talking together about the Kingdom of God and the coming Age of Glory.

At that moment, Jesus began to shine brighter than the noon day sun – so bright, in fact, that it woke Peter up. The Bible then tells us, “Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was” (Luk_9:32, Contemporary English Version).

Hmmm. “They woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was” — Don’t you think it’s time for that to happen again?

Do you remember reading the story of Rip Van Winkle when you were a kid? I do, but the funny thing is I can’t remember what the point of the story was. I mean, I know it’s about a guy who fell asleep for a really long time – but beyond that I couldn’t recall anything else. So I decided to read it again and here’s what I discovered.

When Rip Van Winkle went to sleep, King George of England was the recognized monarch who ruled over the American colonies. Twenty years later when Rip woke up, George Washington was the President of the United States.

Rip Van Winkle had slept through a Revolution!

Peter, James and John were essentially doing the same thing on top that sacred mountain of transfiguration. And, as the evidence seems to suggest, much of the church today is in the exact same condition – sleeping through a revolution.

Over a hundred years ago Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A slumbering church compels Satan to make it his chief business to rock the cradle, hush all noise, and drive away even a fly lest it light upon the sleeper’s face. His great dread is that this church might rouse itself from her dreamy repose.”


We would do well in these lazy days to take heed to the words of the apostle Paul. “Make sure,” he wrote, “that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God” (Rom_13:11, The Message).

Odd, don’t you think, that on the one hand we can be so busy about this and that – that we completely doze off and miss the very presence and work of God happening all around us?

We can be like Jacob who, waking from his sleep, said, “Ah, surely the Lord was in this place and I knew it not!” (see Gen_28:16).

A few years ago I was in Lincoln, Nebraska, and caught sight of a most unusual spectacle. An ambitious truck driver had attempted to move a large, historic church building along highway 103 with his woefully undersized rig. He possibly could have made it, but somewhere along the route he fell asleep at the wheel and ran off the road. When the rig listed to the right, the church slid off the truck and ended up stuck in the mud in the ditch.

The sight of this massive historic church building stuck in the mud in a ditch is disturbingly prophetic. Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions as gawkers came out in droves to see the strange sight. I can’t help but wonder how many churches in America are in just such a predicament today?

Somebody fell asleep at the wheel – and the church is stuck in the mud. And the watching World, far from being impressed with our theatrics and swollen words, merely drives by at a snail’s pace taking in the view and cracking a few worn out jokes.

We desperately need an Awakening – especially among those who serve as the leaders in Faith. For if they are indeed “asleep at the wheel” we are not only poised for ridicule – but quite possibly disaster. If the blind can lead the blind into a ditch, where will we end up if we follow sleeping leaders?

Awakening is a theme often repeated in scripture. “Awake! Awake! Put on your strength, O Zion!” Isaiah cried. “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin,” Paul said to the Corinthians. He put it this way when he wrote to the church in Ephesus – “Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” (Eph_5:14, The Message).

A great example of this very thing is Lazarus, the friend of Jesus.

When the disciples heard the news that Lazarus had died, Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (Joh_11:11). Arriving at the tomb, Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” Lazarus came out of the crypt fully alive, but was still wrapped up like a mummy. Jesus said to those standing by, “Loose him, and let him go.” (see Joh_11:43-44).

The story of Lazarus shows us three things Jesus does to awaken a sleeping Church, and rouse a slumbering giant.

·          First, He gives us the ability to hear His voice — “Lazarus!” Just days before this miracle took place Jesus had said, “The hour is coming when those who are in the graves will hear the voice of the Son of God, and will live.” Lazarus heard His voice and came to life — so can you and I.

·         Second, Jesus gives us the power to become what He has called us to be — “Come forth!” When Jesus called Lazarus by name, that awakened him; when He told Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, that empowered him. The Lord never commands us do something that He does not empower us to do. What has He commanded you to do?

·         And third, Jesus gives us the help we need to be completely liberated from the effects and trappings of a failed life — “Loose him, and let him go!” Jesus spoke these words to those standing by, and He does the same for us.

There are key people – close friends and valued associates whom the Lord has put in our lives to help us get out of our grave clothes and into a new wardrobe. If we are willing for it to happen and will cooperate with the process, our lives will truly be transformed.

May we be like Peter, James and John in this day of opportunity? May we all at once “wake up and see how glorious Jesus is” (Luk_9:32, Contemporary English Version).

May we find the words of the apostle Paul to be confirmed in our own lives each and every day -- “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Eph_5:14).

May the Lord forbid us to sleep through this revolution!