Arise sleeper, awake from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5: 14

 

When Christ comes into our lives He changes the status of our souls from ones that are dead and already in the process of decaying into ones that are fully alive and that are then in the process of being transformed into souls that shine with the glory of Christ. Turning my life over to Christ and following His path of righteousness in my life has the effect of quite literally awaking me from the deep and dark sleep of that spiritually dead state into the light of awareness. As Christ shows me truth and His Spirit makes acting upon that truth an imperative, my now wide-open eyes begin to see that the world has a profound level of need for a savior.

 

This awareness is not a part of the thinking of a person who is still asleep, and, I fear, that there are times when those of us who do know Christ are also caught napping. We tune out the voice of our Savior as He points us toward the hurt, the broken, and the spiritually needy people around us, and we excuse our untimely slumber by pointing to how much energy we are using in order to survive the day or to all of the really good things that we are already doing for the sake of our religious practices. To Christ, these statements are simply excuses, and He asks, “Am I not enough, am I not all that you need?”

 

The honest, true, and real answer is, “Yes, You are more than all that I ever need.” So Christ calls to us to awaken and arise! If your heart and mind have slipped into a drowsy state, it is time to pull back the curtains and let the glory of Christ in. Then, it is also time to become like a rooster in the world crying out in celebration of the new dawn of life that is to be found in and through Christ. This day is the Lord’s, and He is ready to pour out His glory into each and every life that turns to Him. So, those of us who are already awake can demonstrate and speak about the life that we have received from our Lord, and by living in this manner, we bring the hope of true life to the world that we touch.

 

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And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Genesis 3: 21

 

When I look at the two verses in this passage of Scripture that discuss the wearing of clothing, I usually look at the shamefulness of sin and its impact on these first people and on all of us going forward from them. This is truly the point of the first incidence in the story when Adam and Eve cover themselves with sewn together leaves, but as I look at this second discussion of clothing I think that there is something else going on here. This time the Lord does the work of creating the clothing. He takes the skins from animals and fashions clothing for these people who He has just confronted with their rebellion and with the resultant changes that will take place in their daily lives and on into the unforeseeable future. God has been very direct with them regarding the damage that their disobedience to Him has caused, but He has also shown them grace and mercy and provided them with His mission to carry our over the balance of their lives.

 

Now, the Father grants to Adam and to Eve the gift of dignity and respect. In their newly found awareness, they realize that they are naked, and they are now uncomfortable in this physical state. They are also vulnerable in the new world where they will be living. The impacts of their rebellion are causing changes in their environment that will turn it into a place where dangers are real and present. As they live outside of the perfection of God’s original creation they will encounter the harsh aspects of life that come with God’s curse upon the ground which are discovered as they engage in the Lord’s blessing of commission to care for the land that He has given to them. This new world where they are to live is a complicated and troubling place, and the Lord demonstrates the fact that He will continue to travel through this journey with them in this simple act of provision. God was caring for Adam and Eve in very personal and direct manner, and this care was a demonstration of the intimate and loving way that He goes through life with all of His people.

 

We are all rebellious and engage in thoughts and actions that are defiant of God’s expressed will and the direction that His Word provides to us. We also live in a world that can be dangerous and hostile to its inhabitants. So, we need protection, mercy, and grace in order to live well and to be at peace with our God and with ourselves as we do this. So, today just as it was with Adam and Eve, God comes after us in our times of wandering away from His righteous path. He confronts us with the truth of our sinfulness and even allows the consequences of it to impact our lives; yet, He also reaches out to us with His hands of mercy and cares for our brokenness. Christ reminds our troubled hearts of the fact that He has already paid the penalty for our sins and that in Him we are free to live out God’s calling for our lives. The Lord does for each of us the same thing that He did for our first ancestors in that He reaches out to us and provides us with His perfectly crafted garment that is made of love and grace, and He sends us out from where we are clothed in His dignity and respect to live out the purpose that He has devised for each of our lives.

How can you believe when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God.

John 5: 44

 

Jesus is questioning how far we will go and what we would be willing to do in order to gain recognition, fame, and glory. We live in a culture that is constantly elevating individuals to places of notoriety and that seeks to find people who have accomplished something special or who have achieved something that sets them apart from the pack. However, the problem that we have in all of this is that we seem to have such an insatiable thirst for vicariously viewing the activities of these celebrities that behaviors that are noteworthy only for their stupidity, harmfulness, or lack of righteousness are too often the ones that gain recognition. The other element of this thirst for prominence that was troubling to Jesus and that should disturb us is that people, in general, will gravitate toward sources of easy praise and will set standards of behavior for themselves that are intended to gain it.

 

Sadly, we humans will settle for the dim light of this sort of recognition when radiance like the sun could be ours. There is only one source of true light, for it comes from the Creator of all lights. In addition, real, lasting glory is the reflection of the character of God, Himself. Since God wants to be with us and to engage with us in our lives, and He works in our hearts and minds to transform us from being darkened by the stain of sin and its death to being radiantly alive in Christ, we have access to the glory of God.

 

The question that Jesus posed and that we should be asking ourselves is why do I seek the praises of people and compromise God’s standards for living righteously when I already have the gift of recognition from the great and generous Father? God continually pours out His blessings onto His children, they rain down like an unending stream of brightly colored confetti, and the Lord celebrates each and every moment that we choose to follow Him and bring light into our world. Let’s take the glory of Christ into the darkness that is trying to surround us so that we can share our knowledge of it’s one and only source with people who are desperately in need of something to celebrate and of someone who will lovingly care for their needs.

 

Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through his power.

1 Corinthians 6: 14

 

Life means much more than just breath in and out. Being alive involves thoughts and actions that are above, beyond and outside of the understanding of this world’s haze of defeat and death. Life is what God gives to us through Christ. The life that comes through Christ is not just entered into in a future eternity that follows this mortal existence. Rather, God intends for it to be our reality in the here and now. Life in Christ and living through Christ becomes the sustaining breath of people who follow Him. We are totally new at the core of our being, and we can be almost completely transformed into Christ-image bearers by surrendering ourselves fully to Him.

 

So, in this fact lies one of the great conflicts of life for Christians. We follow Christ because we are drawn to the righteousness of God in contrast to our lost state without Him. There is a very apparent contrast between the way that we would like to approach our days and our mode of living. Yet, after the joy and the elation of new relationship with Jesus are past, we see little in the way of difference. Life goes on. I am still as I was with my fears, angers, conflicts, and pain. I have an eternity secured but today’s life is still firmly grounded in this hell-on-earth residence.

 

This struggle is not the result of God’s indifference or lack of engagement with me or with this world. It exists in me primarily because I have not surrendered myself to Christ. I continue to seek after my sense of who I am and my concept of value or worth in the same places that I frequented before I knew Christ. As I go to the world’s sources of truth, I can only hope to grow in my worldliness, and when I indulge my weakness and sin, the outcome will always be defeat and shame. However, Christ provides a better way to live. He calls me to His embrace with grace and into the influence of the truth that is found in God’s Word and in fellowship with Christ’s body. This is where my true self lies, for here, in the presence of the Risen Lord, I can live today as an image bearer of Christ.