Keith Green wrote a song, “Asleep in the Light” (inspired by Leonard Ravenhill’s preaching) about how “the world is sleeping in the dark, but the church just can’t fight because it’s asleep in the light.” This kind of “cattle prod” preaching is somewhat effective, but does it actually deal with the underlying reasons for this slumber?
Certainly, the Church, the object of God’s deepest affections—Sleeping Beauty—has been asleep in many ways…at least, in the first world. But rather than trying to flog her awake with guilt, let’s look at what some of these reasons might be.
Perhaps, like Adam, we’ve allowed Satan to interpret our heavenly Father as an angry deity who must be appeased with sacrifice or face retribution. But this performance treadmill leads nowhere and only makes us weary, so like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we lay fast asleep in the poppy fields of religion…so close to the heavenly city, yet so far away in our fear-driven imaginations.
Could it be that she’s bitten into the “apple” of legalism, laced with a poisonous mixture of law and grace that never freed anyone, so she lays paralyzed in a stupor of shame and condemnation? No amount of prodding, fearmongering, and guilt manipulation is going to raise her from this tragic sleep for long. As soon as the fear fades, the slumber resumes.
Maybe having freed herself from the abusive control of manipulative preachers has now lulled her orphaned heart into another magic spell, one that compels her to run from any involved relationship whatsoever. Now, she’s free…and alone.
Could it be our theology of distance and delay has bored her to tears? Got my “go to heaven” ticket punched. Check. Nothing left but to wait for glory land…might as well sleep.
Perhaps being taught she’s nothing more than a pardoned criminal, a homeless beggar praying for scraps from heaven, has anesthetized her longing heart and left her in a fog of spiritual amnesia.
She might become fascinated with newspaper eschatology, waiting any moment to be whisked away as this troubled world falls to its final doom, but this addictive diversion has its own potential disillusionment. What if Jesus doesn’t come for another 100 years?
Even her zeal for supernatural signs and wonders and anointings and spiritual gifts can wane, and certainly lay a trap for her when she doesn’t get the results she expected.
The wicked enemy of our souls has so many ways to dis-appoint us and put us to sleep in the light.
The truth is, none of these things can give our lives real meaning and purpose, or wake us up from our religious slumber. Why? Because they were never meant to. Only Christ’s life can give us light and life.
Inspiration without incarnation leads to a religion without life, whether it be of a mainstream, evangelical or charismatic variety. We’re trying to “do” without “being.” It’s a polished outer self with an impoverished soul. It’s ritual and ministry without intimacy.
You see, Paul told us to wake up, too.
14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” (Eph.5:14 NKJV)
But do we understand the context here? (The “therefore” is “there for” a reason!) Paul had just been telling the Ephesian church…and us…about who we are, Whose we are, and where we are! The mystery of the ages has been gloriously revealed!
We’re not pardoned criminals, or spiritual beggars looking up to the sky and waiting for heaven when we die. We’re not a helpless damsel in distress waiting for rescue either, and we’re certainly not here to entertain ourselves into oblivion with heavenly magic shows. No!
So, what’s the “therefore” there for?
That we would understand that God wanted us, as His adopted sons and daughters, before there ever was a world (Eph.1:3-7), and that we’re His dream fulfilled, His inheritance (Eph.1:18). And He has honored us by putting us far above all principalities and powers and placing us in His Son! (Eph.1:21-23; 2:6). We are His house, His dwelling place (Eph.2:19-22). We belong to the royal family of God that spans both heaven and earth (Eph.3:14-15). We’ve been literally placed in the Eternal Fellowship and Circle of Love, between the Father, Son and Spirit, so that we can walk in and experience the fullness that fills God! (Eph.3:19-20)
19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph.3:19 NKJV – emphasis mine)
So here’s my question: what does being filled with the fullness of God look like? Is it boring? Can a person sleep when they finally understand this? Hardly! No cattle-prodding needed for a heart so awakened.
We weren’t repurposed by God, freed from an ordinary human life for His extraordinary new creation life, to follow after signs and wonders. Signs and wonders follow us as a matter of course. We don’t need to wait for revival like orphans waiting for a visitation from Papa. No, we need transformation, by the renewing of our minds, for a daily lifestyle of revival inhabitation.
We are Jesus’ beautiful bride, His precious pearl of great price, His body…heaven touching earth in human form. We are the Father’s beloved sons and daughters. But even more exciting than all that, we’ve been brought into His Trinitarian life!
Do you see it, precious sought-out one? This Divine Fellowship of love and grace and peace and joy, is flowing in and through us…now and forever. And no one, or no thing, can take this away from us. Only we have the power, by our ignorance or unbelief, to make it have no effect in our lives.
It’s not guilt and manipulation that awakens our hearts but a life filled and empowered by other-centered love…
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor.5:14-15 NKJV)
I wrote the following in my book, Sonshift, about what I see happening to God’s glorious bride today:
Sonshift is about Jesus’ true love—His Sleeping Beauty—in the middle of a great awakening. She isn’t dead, just sleeping. She’s always been just as beautiful as she was on the day she was born. Jesus has always loved her the same. But a wicked prince has always hated her because she is the object of the King’s deepest affection. So he tried to kill her, but he could only manage to put her in an orphan sleep. And now, in our lifetime, the time has come for her to awaken. (Sonshift, p. 27, 28)
It is a very good time to wake up.