Smash the Alarm Clock!
Why on earth, did we ever invent the alarm clock? So much better to gently awake in the morning I think. When I use my alarm I’m always so surprised at how loud it is. In the day time, when I check it’s sound, it is so gentle and light, but in the morning, when it wakes me up it’s like the klaxon on naval destroyer calling all hands to battle stations. Alarm clocks just so, well, alarming. Sometimes I wish I was like the old Cartoons, and from under my pillow I could produce an oversized wooden mallet, about 20 lbs in weight designed for pounding the tent pegs of circus tents, well worn, mushroomed on the ends from years of use by strong men. I’d like to pull one of those out suddenly and smash my alarm clock to pieces.
But I’d never really do that. Because I actually like my alarm clock. I’m the guy that sets it. I set it when I’m awake and of sound mind because I know how important it is for me to get up in the morning. For Sunday mornings, I set three of them because it’s super important for me to be here. Imagine coming here only to find that the preacher decided to sleep in. This is the stuff of many a pastor’s nightmare…. to sleep through church. I want to be responsible. I want to do what I am called to do and do it well. For this reason I salute alarm clocks as one of the best things ever.
It is with this understanding that we need to approach Romans 13:11-14 which is my text. For in that text, The apostle Paul is sounding the alarm; calling us Christians to wakefulness and watchfulness as we live out our lives in the world. And we want that! Now is not the time to be spiritually drowsy, nor is it the time to to be snoozing away. For we are in the final era of the world. The first era was creation. The second era was redemption, where God worked through the history of the world to bring jesus into the world. And the third and final era will be when Jesus returns as Judge. That is all that remains for God’s work on the earth to be completed. And when will Jesus come? Perhaps today. Perhaps tomorrow. We’re not sure. One thing is certain: you and I are living closer to the end than any previous generation. As Paul says “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.” In other words, now, of all times is not the time for us to be asleep in the faith.
What does it mean to be asleep in the faith? It means that ones faith has little or no effect on the way one lives. It means that the ways of darkness have much more pull on a person than the ways of the Lord. A person who is asleep in the faith does not use his faith in everyday life. Instead, he passively accepts the rule of the mob; doing and saying what they want rather than what God wants. The desire to be admired by human beings eclipses the desire to be right with the Lord. To be asleep in the faith is to be dead to God but alive to the world.
Are you asleep in the faith? I can’t really answer that for you. That’s something for you and you alone to ask yourself. You can pinch yourself to see if you are asleep. Pinch yourself with a simple question: “What influences me more: my friends, cultural trends, the books I read, the TV I watch, or the will and ways of my Lord?” Ask yourself that question and answer it honestly. Make your own conclusions. You will perhaps find that some adjustments are necessary.
For Paul says “let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Put on Christ. I like that. As Christians waiting for the return of Christ, we are to wake up, and then we are to get dressed, we are to clothe ourselves in Christ. These are the Garments of Salvation that Isaiah talks about (Is. 61:10). These are the wedding clothes that Jesus talks about in one of his parables on the wedding banquet. This is what Paul talks about in Galatians 3:27, when he says, you who have been baptized into Christ Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” Again and again scriptures, both old and new testaments alike make it clear that we need to be covered in some way in order to meet the day of the Lord
Calling for the mountains for cover is what the people in darkness will do. They will wish themselves destroyed, even annihilated rather than face the Savior who will return as Judge. But we don’t need to be destroyed. Our wonderful Lord found a way to deal with the seriousness of our sin, while at the same time saving and redeeming the sinners. He found a way to cover our sins. And as paul reveals in the text, it is through his Son.
In Jesus, we are covered. Indeed, we have not lived the perfect life that is required, but he did. And we could not endure the punishment that our sins deserve, but he did. And he he rose again. By faith in him, a marvelous exchange takes place. We give him our sins, he gives us his righteousness in the sight of God. We give him our death, he gives us his life. We are made ready for his return by faith in him.
In the text, Paul is merely inciting us to be who we already are; to live according to what we all ready know; to walk in the light rather than in the darkness. We have been rescued from our sins, we should “should not make any provision to gratify the desires of the flesh” We shouldn’t take extra steps and make plans and make allowances for that which know is evil. One might think he can dance with a little bit of evil here and there, but he’d be wrong.
This is most certainly an alarm clock…that Paul gives us in this text. And like any alarm clock, for those who are asleep it can be quite startling; even frightening. But for those who are already awake, its more like a reminder for us to be who we are and to do what we want to do according to our new nature in Christ. We are God’s people, redeemed by Christ, called to live our lives for Christ.
Have you ever had a period in your life when the work you are doing is so exciting that you actually wake up before your alarm? For those times whether your alarm is a bell, a buzzer or a beeper, it ceases to be an annoying disturbance but rather the signal to go… a green light for you to drive on to you where you want to go. For those who are in a groove like that, the Alarm clock is no longer hated or dreaded, but rather welcomed and most appreciated. Take this passage in this way. Take it as a signal to start being more Godly in all that you do. AMEN.