Summary: This sermon helps us to understand the urgency of awakening out of spiritual inactivity.
Do you remember during your childhood, and perhaps our youth can relate to this now, when you had fallen deep in sleep? I mean you were past counting sheep and you were on cloud 9. Everything was perfect, and you were having the best dream you had in months. Then you were suddenly awakened by that all so dreaded phrase, rise and shine! Some of us would be like, “Oh no, can I at least have 10 more minutes.” That’s because it seems like our best sleep is between 5 & 6:30 in the morning. Nevertheless, your parent was making an urgent appeal for you to get up and get dressed. Why was this appeal so urgent, because your mother or father knew what time it was, and if you continued to sleep any longer you would be late in wherever you were going or behind schedule in whatever you had to do.
Some of you had parents who weren’t lying when they said if you weren’t ready you going to get left behind. Now some of you used that to your advantage when you didn’t want to go anywhere, but you also noticed it didn’t work on Sunday mornings. But when the urgent appeal to rise and shine is given, it is in our best interest that we respond by rising and shining. Whenever we fail to wake up when we’re suppose to, we find ourselves in not so good situations. Recently, and my wife may argue that it’s been longer than that; I’ve found that it has been very difficult for me to wake up. I mean sometimes I hear the alarm, but most of time I don’t. It’s really bad when my wife is out of town for business, that’s when I can set three alarms and still not hear when they go off.
The problem comes when I realize that if I don’t rush, I’m going to be late for work, but praise God we have flex time. But in rushing at times, I’m putting myself in danger, if I would I woke up on time, then I wouldn’t find myself in those situations. The alarm clock was the urgent appeal for me to rise and shine, but missing that call to awaken I find myself in not so good situations. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the alarm clock or the loud voice of our parents that wakes us up, but only the touch from Jesus can open our eyes to a brand new day. Our parents and alarm clocks are only instruments that God uses to wake us.
It is in our text that Paul in this letter to the church at Rome, urgently appeals for them to rise and shine. Paul had never been to Rome before, but he had a great desire to visit. Rome was the New York of its time, it was a place of great influence that spread far and wide. In Paul’s day, Rome was the largest city in the world. It was diplomatic and the trade center of the world. To the world, Rome had it going on, it was the place everybody wanted to be, but for the Christian living in Rome it was like being a distinct and oppressed minority.
Rome was a worldly city, but it was also very religious. Roman citizens centered their religion around Jupiter, the Greek god of the heavens and weather. Jupiter wasn’t the only god they served, for they had many gods, and this is one thing that caused conflict with the Jews and Christians because they believed in one God, the true and living God.
There was a great opportunity for Paul and the church at Rome to share the gospel with the unsaved. But the church at Rome had no apostolic leaders or teachers. In other words, the church wasn’t founded by any of the disciples that had walked with Jesus, nor was it being led by anyone who had been taught by the disciples. So, one of Paul’s reasons for writing this letter was to give the church at Rome “Christian” literature. They only had the Hebrew scriptures, which was the Old Testament, but the Gospels hadn’t been written yet, and Paul’s other letters had been sent to other churches.
Under divine inspiration, Paul wrote a theological masterpiece that had a strong message of the sovereignty of God and justification by faith. This letter would also give Paul credibility and authority to speak on Christ’s behalf. The church at Rome had only heard about Paul, but didn’t really know who he was. Paul had to establish what he believed in and identify himself as a servant of God. The church at Rome would have no reason to believe anything Paul said in this letter, if they didn’t believe he was sent by God.