Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wake Up

Romans 13:8-14

Is it part of the “dad contract” that he has to be the one who wakes up everyone else in the morning? I don’t know how I got the job—well, yeah I do. I get up before everyone else. Every morning ever since our children started school it has fallen to me to wake them up. I used to do it real cutesy like:

Daddy’s coming up to your room to wake you up…

I'm 10 steps away…

four steps…

three steps…


Then I’d pounce on the kids and tickle them until they screamed Stahaahahahap Daddy!!!

After a while that got old and embarrassing to the kids. (I quit last week) I’d still do it for a while just to show them! Now it’s the turn the light on routine and nag until they get up. This is the 10th time I’ve told you to get up!

My uncle Jess probably would have been turned into child protective services for what he did to my older cousin when he was twelve. He wouldn’t get up for school after several warnings. Finally Jess had enough and picked up a cattle prod. That was the last time my cousin Eddie had to ever be told to get up twice!

Waking up and getting going in the morning is hard for some folks—easier for others (ask my wife: Terri’s not a morning person…come to think of it, she’s not an evening person either). But there comes a time when it’s time to get going! You can’t spend your life in bed—although some would like to try. If you are going to live life, you have to get moving, get going, hop to it! And this is the imagery Paul uses in Romans 13:11. He basically says, Look at the clock! Realize what time it is! Time to get up!
“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when you first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”
What is he talking about? He’s telling his readers, and us, too: these are the last days we live in! Paul may had the destruction of Jerusalem in mind, but we can’t rule out he also had the last day when God will vindicate all of his children and recreate the heavens and the earth and resurrect the dead. That day gets closer and closer. It’s time to wake up and start living like you believe it! In verses 12 and following he continues:
Night time is almost done; it’s almost time for the dawn. Get rid of the nighttime lifestyle—living in the dark and darkness—and get dressed with your armor of light. Behave decently, like people who live in the light, not in wild parties and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and orgies, not in hateful bickering and jealousy. (Personal paraphrase)
This was a counter-cultural message then and it is counter-cultural now. When the norm is living together before marriage or chasing after someone else’s wife, drinking yourself into oblivion—the life-style of a Jesus-follower stands in stark contrast. But it doesn’t just stop with that.

Good religious folk like to point out these behaviors and say: Well, I never! But Paul adds things like “hateful bickering and jealousy.” You notice they belong to the same list? All of these actions are self-centered and selfish. I'm not concerned with the needs, feelings or best interests of others. I am pursuing what I want and that’s it. I can gloss it over, I can call it love when it’s really lust. I can pretend my motives are honorable. But Paul cuts right through it and says: It’s living in the darkness and it’s time to wake up. If you follow Jesus, you’ve entered into a new way of looking at life and a new way of living life. Quit wearing those old grave clothes! Get dressed for the day time! Put on the armor of light! He words it another way in verse fourteen: Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus. You wrap yourself up in him! When you look at him you don’t see this kind of behavior. “Well that’s Jesus!” Yes, and your point is? “I'm not Jesus!” Congratulations! But if you are a Jesus follower that is your aim to be transformed into his image! Your life is to be wrapped up in his!

Another way to describe the kind of life Christ lived is found in the verses right before this little text: verses eight through ten. Paul says: there’s only one kind of debt that’s good and that’s the kind you need to be in: to love. You owe it to love everyone! That’s the way Jesus lived. In fact, by loving people—not lusting people but loving people—you live the way Jesus did.

Jesus fulfilled the law, right? When you love people you fulfill the law, too. All of those commands such as, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or goods,” and all of the other commands that are out there are summed up in the one rule—the rule Jesus said was the second great command: Love your neighbor as yourself.

How is that, Paul? Quite simply: when you love your neighbor, you won’t cheat him, you won’t try to seduce his or her mate, you won’t hurt him or her or treat him or her in any way that would cause them harm. And by the way: everyone is your neighbor—including your spouse, your children, your friends, and your enemies. When you wake up and start living like it’s daylight—when you get yourself dressed up in Jesus, this is the kind of life style you live.

Paul said something like this in his letter to the Christ-followers in Ephesus. He said:
For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. –Ephesians 5:8-17 NIV-
Our problem is we are too busy being wrapped up in our own will: in what we want! Maybe this isn’t you—but it’s my observation that people in our society—and many who call themselves Christians—can be some of the most self-centered and selfish people in the world. I don’t really care how God wants me to live—this is what I want! I want what I want when I want it—and I will do whatever it takes to get what I want; even if it destroys my marriage, destroys my health, hurts other people, stomps on the feelings of the people around me, or crushes the spirits of my children.

And we are so wrapped up in that darkness, we can’t even see it!

It's time to wake up.

Paul’s like the daddy who gets up in the morning. It’s time to wake up, everyone! Look at the time! Get dressed! Start living like it’s daylight! Wake up O sleeper and rise from the dead! Christ will shine on you!

May you begin to understand God’s will. May you recognize God has made you to be wrapped up in the life of Christ. May you understand your call to die to your own selfish desires and pleasures and to wake up to the people around you: to put to death self-centered lusts, selfishness, jealousy, bitter hatred and instead, to love your neighbor—looking out for the interests of others, just as Jesus did. It’s time to wake up and get dressed!

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