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Spiritual Sleepwalking Requires an Awakening

I think Jesus might be saying the same thing to me he said to the Sardis Church: “Wake up!”  Maybe he’s wanting to say it to you as well. All my life I’ve struggled with falling asleep too easily. It’s a real problem when I’m driving a car at night. And wh…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I think Jesus might be saying the same thing to me he said to the Sardis Church: “Wake up!”  Maybe he’s wanting to say it to you as well.

All my life I’ve struggled with falling asleep too easily. It’s a real problem when I’m driving a car at night. And when I was a kid, I had an issue sleepwalking. 

Oh, I thought I was awake. As a child, I’d get fevers and the world felt upside down. Everything felt louder. When I’d sleepwalk in this feverish state, I’d want to stand on my head so that I could see it right. 

I was raised in a left-brain, fact-based, rationalistic Evangelical home. The good news of the kingdom had penetrated my mind, but I wasn’t seeing the world right. It was like it was upside down and I didn’t know. 

But God had more for me. His kingdom may not have been perceptible to my eyes, but it was more real than the reality I was living.

God wanted me to wake up. My social calendar was symptomatic of my spiritual sleepiness. High school was tough. I was one of the smallest guys on the championship football team. I was literally on the 6th string. Girls terrified me. Youth group was nine girls and me. I didn’t know how to date and I didn’t know who I was.

My story of waking up to the kingdom took years. I was already a Christian when I heard the good news that Jesus announced in his day: there is a kingdom of God and it is coming! All my life I had heard that the end was coming and we should be afraid of it. Evil was getting worse and the judgment was near. 

Your story

What’s your story? Maybe you’ve already woken up to reality. You see yourself, not as the sad, flawed individual in the mirror, but as a son or a daughter of the most high God. Perhaps at some point in your life you learned to see the poor and the hopeless through his eyes. Perhaps your heart expanded and spiritual eyes opened. 

But is that your reality today? It’s all to easy to plug into a society that is singing you lullabies. And pretty soon, your day is filled with routines and obligations and you find yourself being rocked back to sleep. You lose track of the person you once were and your heart struggles to feel what it once felt. 

The church of Sardis

If you read Revelations 3, it is like Jesus is shouting to us, “Wake up!” He is talking to the church and says: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished.”

We live in a land of sleepwalkers. The church of Sardis has nothing on us. We carry our own anesthetics and sleep aids with us. Our iPhones keep us distracted and dumbed down. We live lives so filled with noise that God’s still, small voice is drowned out. And are spirits drift off to sleep.

What would God’s letter to you and your friends look like? Would it look like the letter to the church of Sardis? Would he be shouting so loud that the neighbors hear, “Wake up!” Would he say, “you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead…[so] repent”? 

Look at that verse and see if it describes you in any way:

“I know your deeds; 

you have a reputation of being alive,

but you are dead. 

Wake up!

Strengthen what remains and is about to die,

for I have found your deeds unfinished.

…repent.”

Applying it

How can we use this Scripture in our lives? I suggest asking a few sets of questions by way of application. Here are five:

1. What is your reputation? Do you have a reputation for being spiritually alive? When was the last time you prayed expecting to see a sick person healed or a dead person raised? Have you been more spiritually alive in the past?

2. Have you been hearing God shouting “wake up!”? Has he been shaking you out of your comfortable places?

3. Would he say that your deeds are unfinished? Do you know what the call of God is on your life and are you following it?

4. Jesus says to the church at Sardis, “Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” What is the greatness that God has deposited in you that needs to be strengthened? Is it such a shadow of your former self that it feels like it is about to die?

5. He concludes with a call to repent. Are you ready to change your way of living – to repent?

The world is full of adventure and possibility. But some of us are sleeping right through the invitation to experience it. Let’s not hit the snooze button on the alarm. Let’s live alert and fully alive.

———————

Tomorrow we begin a conference called the Awakening. Pray for me as I share Rev. 3 with those who are there. Pray for us all to wake up to what God is saying.

Comments (3)

  • Thank you Seth for climbing the high church tower and like a passionate Quasimodo ringing the bells to shake loose spiritual lethargy which fitfully encroaches in our noisy culture. Noise is a narcotic. The Catholic “Desert Fathers” have taught many things but none more vital than the power of contemplative prayer and the need for quiet. I’m an “extroverted introvert.” People exhaust me. But influence is important for the sake of the Kingdom. I love treasures penned by people like T.S. Eliot in “Choruses From The Rock” when he said….”Where is the life we have lost in living?” We are human beings. Not human doings. You know I celebrate your passions and love you amigo. Always.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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