The Christian community in America, for the most part, is fast asleep. I don’t think we meant to fall asleep and I’m not sure how we did in the first place. I have even tried to come up with other explanations since I didn’t want to come to this conclusion, but nothing else makes any sense.
Sure, we have a few voices like John the Baptist, “crying in the wilderness”. Generals in God’s army that are making wake up calls to the troops like Jesus called to his disciples in the garden. Most of the time we respond to the message sleepily, “Yeah, that’s sounds great. Let me sleep five more minutes and I’ll get to it.” Sadly, their message is soon forgotten like a dream that cannot be remembered in the morning. We return to sleepwalking through our lives, oblivious to anything that doesn’t directly affect us. How did we get here and what will wake us up? I believe I have come up with a few ideas.
First, we have become way too comfortable. Most of us no longer think of Jesus as a radical. We’ve toned Him down to the point where He’s more manageable to us. Love the body of believers? Sure, we can do that as long as they’re not too different. Give to the poor? Contributing to a church program is fine, but giving the poor among us a hug and speaking with them one on one can make us a little uneasy. The few who really step out of the box we have created are branded as radicals, Bible thumpers or “Jesus freaks”. Is that the way we were meant to live?
The answer is a definitive “NO!!!” The longer I think about it, the stronger I feel that Jesus would have lived to a ripe old age on earth and we wouldn’t have the hope of heaven if He hadn’t lived a life that shook things up. The people that were the most upset with Him, the ones who demanded His crucifixion were the ones who had the most to lose if the current status quo was not maintained. He disturbed the way they felt things were meant to be and they felt threatened. Jesus had the audacity to call them “whitewashed tombs”! That’s pretty strong language for someone who’s supposed to be “safe”.
Then I started thinking about Jesus’ choice of words. I arrived at some startling conclusions. What exactly was a “whitewashed tomb”? I settled on someone who’s all cleaned up on the outside and dead on the inside. Ouch, I could really identify with that! How did I get there? I realized there were areas that I hadn’t let Him in yet; thinking if I could just get the outside in order, the inside would “magically” get clean too.
Once I decided to let Him in the messy areas too, I learned something else. It made me uncomfortable to have those areas exposed, but I started to see changes that surprised me. I was sleepwalking through life less and more willing to step out of my comfort zone since I didn’t have to protect those messy areas from prying eyes. Once, I actually prayed for God to do whatever He needed to do in me to make me more like Him. I didn’t want to risk falling back asleep.
Maybe you’re reading this because you’re tired of being asleep too, so I can only tell you what helped me. God answered my prayer by allowing my life to go haywire. My son started experimenting with drugs, my finances went crazy and nothing seemed to make sense. Through it all, He gifted me with a level of patience and compassion I never could have gotten any other way.
So, if you’re willing, maybe not avoiding pressure is the best way to finally wake up. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. What if we truly believed that? We might find an additional bonus too. Why do we need Him when we keep our lives at a point we can handle alone? We have to get to where we are willing to go through anything to get more of Him. It will be uncomfortable, but I can promise you something based on my own experience. He will meet us there and we will never be the same.