Roger's Postings

Friday, September 02, 2011

Romans 13:8-14.                                 Wake up!!                                                       4/9/11

 (8)  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. {9} The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." {10} Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. {11} And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. {12} The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. {13} Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. {14} Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

 Wake up! Wake up! Yes, I know that the sermon has just started and you have not had time to fall asleep yet. But that is the message of our text here. Wake up, for it is time to get to work: to get on with being the people that we are called to be. So stop dreaming and getting caught up in our own self-interest; because our salvation is nearer now than it ever was before. Wake up!

 As I thought and mediated on this reading I found that this message applies to us all. Spiritually, we are all in various stages of a coma. To a greater or lesser degree we are all spiritually asleep: often feeling safe and secure between the blankets of our faith. She’ll be right; I'm OK. So we go on thinking about ourselves and our own lives and pleasures; physically, sexually, intellectually and spiritually: self-focussed and self-absorbed. Not all that concerned about our Christian life; except those bits that make us feel good and that are advantageous to us.

 At the same time today we often have little real concept off the holiness of our Lord and of Godly fear. We seem to fail to consider that we are dealing with God Almighty himself: the one who has the power and control over all things, and in whose hands our destiny rests. He is a great and awesome God who at the same time loves and cares about each one of us, no matter how bad we really are. In fact he loves us that much the he has saved us from the mess that we have made for ourselves and has given us a better way to live. Yet so often we give little or no thought to him in thankfulness and appreciation of all this that he has done for us; except of course when we want him to do something for us. Nor do we consider the outcome of what will happen to us if we are considered to have turned our backs on him and all that he has done for us.

 Yes, we have put our hand to the plow of our Christian life: we call ourselves Christians; but so often it seems that our eyes are only looking back; having a form of godliness, yet denying its power. In others words, we acknowledge the importance of Christ and Christianity by saying that we are Christians and that we belong to the church and all of that; yet in many ways we are not seeking to live under God and his Word. We neither want to accept his authority and Lordship over us, or seek to live in and take seriously what his Word calls us to be and do.

 That being the case, Paul says to us, that the hour has come for us to wake up from our slumber, because our salvation is nearer now then ever before.

So wake up - wake up, you who are falling asleep in the pews. Wake up, pastor in the pulpit. Wake up, for it is time to get serious.

 Here Paul uses a wonderful analogy to help us to understand this truth. His analogy is that of waking up at the dawn of new day.

At the dawn of a new day, what happens?
Let us use the example of Jack. Jack has just had a night out on the town, partying; eating, drinking and being merry: wine, women and song; you know how it goes. The dawn of a new day comes shortly after he gets to bed, and now the alarm is ringing; it is time to get up and go to work.

 What is Jack going to do? His head is throbbing and he is still more than half asleep. But, is he going to stay in bed, dreaming of the lovely lady that he had shared the night with and the good time that they had? Is he going to keep lying there thinking of perhaps another such party tonight? Is he simply going to think only of himself and pleasures that he wants to have?

 He might like to do this; but even he knows that if he wants to have these things, then he has to work. So at the dawn of the new day he gets up, takes a couple of aspirin and showers. He focuses on what he has to do for the day. So he tucks into a good breakfast, puts on his work gear and sets off to do what needs to be done.

Jack knows full well that if he turns up late, seedy and hung over; thinking only of the party that he had and the pleasures he wanted for himself, without his mind on the job, he would very quickly get the sack. Then all would be finished anyway. As he thinks about this, Jack knows what has to be done. At least he is worldly wise; he knows what is expected and what is needed there.

 But what about us? Are we so wise in our Christian life? Are we?
Well, wake up! Wake up!
We have been given the greatest and best that we could ever expect to have. At our baptism we were joined to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have been brought into the family of God and given eternal life with him. We have the greatest party in front of us, guaranteed by Jesus Christ himself. And it is getting nearer all the time. Are we now going to loose it all, because we want to doze our way through this life? Are we simply going to thinking only of ourselves and the pleasures we want to have here and now?

 No, we have every reason to get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to get on with God's work: loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbour as ourselves. Surely we will now put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Surely we will now clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, not thinking about how to  gratify the desires of our sinful nature. In light of all that Jesus has done, and continues to do for us, let us wake up and get on with it all.

 Yes, as we begin each new day we need to take our aspirin, shower to freshen up and clear our head. We daily need to go back to our baptism and our need for forgiveness, to rid ourselves of our hangover and guilt for our past selfishness'. As the dawn appears we seek a clear head for the task ahead. We do not want to carry the baggage of our past failures into another new day.

Then knowing that the task ahead during the day is an arduous one, we tuck into a hearty breakfast; spending time in God's Word so that we might be strengthened and encouraged for whatever might be in front of us. We do

so, in order that we might be able to clearly focus on what God would have us do throughout the day. We do so knowing that we have God's assurance of help as we do. In this way we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, putting on our armour for the day ahead.

 Because we know the difficulties and dangers that are about us, and the temptations to follow the crowd and fall back to a life of selfishness, we want to be clear-headed in our thinking: so we will constantly seek to gain all the protection and help we can, as we focus on Christ and his Word. We will seek God’s Spirit to help and guide us throughout the day.

 Then as we go forward in this wav, we will find that instead of darkness both in our thinking and the life that we live, we will have light and life.

We will be able to see far more clearly what needs to be done and have clearness of vision to carry it out: Love will encompass and determine all that we do. We will have love for God and neighbour.

 So instead of the focus being on ourselves and our own pleasures and desires we will now be outward focussed; seeking constantly to do what is best for God and his kingdom. In so doing, great blessings will occur and greater glory will go to him who is truly great; our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

 We do this, understanding the present times. The future dawns in front of us. The night is gone and the day is at hand; so let us wake up. Wake up for we have so much to live for; so much to do; so much love to give. Now is the opportunity that we have been given, to stand up and do that which God is calling us to do, in the midst of difficult and tempestuous times. The world around us is hung-over, and in pleasure thinking mode. The time is short and the need is great; so may God rouse us all out of our slumber and help us to go forward bright-eyed and bushy tailed to love and give of ourselves as he requires.

Let us remember that our great and glorious God has done so much for us. He has died for us and forgiven us: eternal life is ours in connection with Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. So again, let us get on with the task that is before, for to our great God be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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