Summary: how God wants us to stay awake in this dark world
January 27, 2002 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to the hard earned purchase of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)
There’s a saying in life that says, “roll with the changes.” Throughout a person’s lifetime we have to make a lot of adaptations to our living conditions. When I moved into a dorm at college, I had to adjust to living with a new roommate. When he was expelled from school, I had to adjust to another one. I had to grow used to living and taking on my own responsibilities of homework and work and play. It wasn’t the easiest thing to adjust to, but I managed.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that getting married and having kids would take so much change. I don’t know what I was thinking, but before I was married I used to think that marriage would be just like being single, except you’d have someone else living in the house with you. But pretty soon I began to realize that life wouldn’t be the same. There was someone else who was now my teammate - who I had to keep informed as to what was going on. And once we had kids, my complete schedule seemed to be locked into when the children were fed, clothed, entertained and put to bed. Never in my life did I have to make so many adjustments as when I was married and had kids.
This may sound strange, but I think one of the most major adjustments I’ve had to make is in my sleeping patterns. Before I was married I would generally go to sleep at 10 and get up when I wanted to. But now I live with four other people who have completely different sleeping patterns than I do. My infant son likes to wake up at 3 and have a little snack. My three year old girl loves to come bouncing in my room every morning to inform me that it’s almost light out and time to get up. Little does she realize that I went to bed later than she did and woke up in the middle of the night. But that doesn’t matter to her. Some days are just really difficult to stay awake. This is true in a spiritual sense as well. It’s difficult to stay awake, so Paul encourages us to -
Never Say “Good Night”
In his letter to the Romans Paul said, “the night is almost over.” (13) He compares living in this world to living in the dark. It is natural to sleep when it is dark out, because the darkness somehow triggers a hormone within us called melatonin, which is supposed to help us sleep. When I was in high school I used to work the graveyard shift. During this time, we would mop and wax sections of the store. This was not easy to do, for by the end of the night, my body would eventually get more and more tired. It was the natural thing to do because that’s the way our bodies are made - to sleep at night.
We sleep for beauty, our brains, our health, and to help us make it through the day. When we get enough sleep, the body purrs on all its cylinders. Gina Poe, a neurophysiologist at Washington State University, said that sleep is "housecleaning time. It’s strengthening things that need to be strengthened, weakening things that no longer need to be there, throwing them away." Infants spend 20 out of 24 hours in a day sleeping. We spend a third of our lives sleeping. This is necessary.
In a spiritual way, Paul told the Thessalonians that many others are asleep and “drunk” - like people who live in the darkness. When you are asleep or drunk, it dulls your senses so that you don’t know what is going on around you. You say things that you don’t mean to say, and you sometimes do things that you wouldn’t mean to do in your “right mind.” For instance, you have to wonder if the world has been sipping a few gin and tonics to believe that the world was created by a big accident that occurred millions of years ago. How spiritually asleep can Americans be to encourage their children to have safe sex before marriage? How insensitive can so many spouses be to leave their spouse and children behind for an affair? What world are they living in to say that it’s ok to suck a child out of it’s mother’s womb and chop it apart into a vacuum? We are living in a world that thinks it is blind tomfoolery to expect a child to remain a virgin until marriage. They preach that it is foolish to tell a woman to deliver a baby into this world that may have MS or mental retardation. They think that they are all going to heaven because they’ve been “pretty good.” And the thing is, they like it where they are. When their consciences are not convicted, and they convince themselves that they are good people, it’s as if they were nice and cozy in their beds of denial. They think this is good for them.