As A Christian, You Are Free From Sleepy Ignorance And Intoxicating Fear

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.


You already know what I am going to tell you: life is hard. Contrary to what the fictional character Forrest Gump once said, life is ‘not’ a box of chocolates. Deep down, we all know what we are going to get from this life under the sun – an empty box with no chocolates.  


John Wayne pretty much hit the nail on the top of the head too, when he once said, 


“Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.”  


No wonder why so many people like to live with the myth that life is somehow easy and perfect and calm. It is easier to pretend things are o.k. even when they really are not. Indeed, it is more comfortable to pretend and even advantageous to pay spiritual gurus, motivational speakers, and authors to tell us the opposite of reality - that we are fine, everything around us is fine, and that things will be fine in the future. 


You see, deep down, we all want to be complacent. We want to congratulate each other, saying, 


“We’ve got it made. Life is easy. Things are looking up. Everything is getting better every day!” 


And as mentioned before, we will pay people to fill our ears with false hope. We will pay people to speak peace and optimism into our ears when there is no peace in this life and no reason to be optimistic about the world’s future.


As a pastor, perhaps the most significant criticism that I have received from parishioners over the last 15+ years is to stop being negative and be ‘more positive.’ Frankly stated, I have been lectured with a finger pointed in my face that I need to put on a happy face and brush off the clouds of gloom and tragedy. I have been told that I should exemplify energy, happiness, and positivity from the pulpit at all costs. I have been told that songs that sound sad and Bible passages that sound heavy should be avoided in church services. I have been told to avoid themes like hell, wrath, sin, and death. I have been told that funerals should not be funerals but need to be celebrations of life. To the point, I have been told that the church should not talk about anything negative but focus only on the positive. 


Dear friends, part of our human problem is that we like to live in the dark. History, everyday experience, and the teachings of the Bible show us that we humans prefer it when pastors, politicians, and journalists twist words and doctor truth – when they put Band-Aids on severe problems and say, 


“There, there, it is not so bad. You will be just fine! Everything is going to be o.k. Things will look better for you. Trust us.”  


We find it more comforting to be asleep to the problems of life. If we can somehow stay asleep to threats, problems, and difficulties in life, it is better that way. To be awake (to the problems, threats, and difficulties) is… well, hard. It is uncomfortable.


In our Epistle reading, the Apostle Paul tells us, though, that we Christians are not children of darkness but children of light. And as children of light, we are not asleep in this life, but we are awake. In other words, as a Christian, you do not sleepwalk through life like the rest of the world. You do not live asleep in the silly myths of complacency. Furthermore, you are not a drunk as a Christian. Literally and figuratively, you are not a drunk who is stupefied and unable to understand the dangers of life. Your life as a Christian is neither one where you stumble around in darkness asleep nor stumble around intoxicated by fear. But instead, as a Christian, you are sober-minded. You are awake, alert, and aware of the realities of life.


Baptized Saints, you must understand that life is different for you as a Christian. You are not like the world. That is to say, when the rest of the world feels earthquakes, sees death, experiences viruses, witnesses riots, and experiences fraud, two things will happen. 

The world will either run to the cover of pretend peace and safety, or the world will become intoxicated with unhinged emotions. On the one hand, when disaster strikes, the world will do everything possible to gather people to soothe them with lullabies of falsehood to coddle them asleep in complacency. Or, the opposite will happen. On the other hand, the world will become like a crazy drunk, liquored up on fear. To the point, the world will never be sober-minded. The world will never be awake and alert but either hiding under the covers asleep to the problems of life or unhinged in irrationality.      


You, though, you are not of the world. You are not called to darkness and sleep. You are not called to drunk emotionalism. You, as a Christian, are called to be a sober person.  


Mark this, as a Christian, you do not let your appetites, fears, and emotions rule your life. But instead, you live soberly in the midst of all that the world will throw at you! As a Christian, you do not need to pull the sheets over your head and suck your thumb to sleep. You do not need to be intoxicated with fear. But instead, you live awake amid all that the world throws at you because you know the comforting news that all ends well in Christ!  


That is really the game-changer, is it not? When you and I know the end of the story – that all ends well in Christ – it changes everything. Because we know that Christ holds not only the beginning but also the end, you and I can look soberly at the realities of life with a calm, cool, and collected disposition. 


Think of it this way, Baptized Saints. You and I know that this life under the sun is a vale of tears. Jesus tells us that in this godless world that we will have problems and will continue to experience difficulties. We know that because of sin, there is no such thing as a golden utopia. There is no such thing as true peace in this world. There have always been problems, wars, disease, unrest, conflict, death, and disaster, and we know that there will always be these things. And yet, regardless of the problems of life, we can lift our chins and know that with every moment and every day and every disaster that we are that much closer to Christ who makes all things new.  


The world will either cry out peace when there is no peace or be intoxicated with fear, but you, as a Christian, will continually guard yourself against both of these extremes.  When you feel earthquakes, see death, experience viruses, witness riots, and experience fraud, these shall not force you to dark ignorance or silly stupefied emotions but shall cause you to lift up your head and know that these are signs that this life is temporary and that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back someday to make all things anew.

And when we think about Jesus coming back again? Ah, this second coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead shall not produce any fear in us. You see, at the end of time, we need not fear God’s wrath.  


Yes, Jesus is coming back with a great vengeance to make all things right. He is coming back not in meekness but with force and power. But the news of the end of the world, as we know it, shall not bring about drowsiness or intoxication. No! The news of Christ’s day shall make us raise our heads even higher, for, in Christ, you and I have gained complete redemption. By Jesus giving Himself into death in our place and for our benefit, we have complete salvation. Nothing held back.  


So, in Christ, in all circumstances, and in light of the second coming of Jesus, you live with sober alertness. You are awake. You are aware of reality. You are not discouraged. You are not easily swayed. You are not easily given to fear. You know that whether you continue to carry out your obligations in this vale of tears or rest in your grave six feet under that Christ holds you.  


 As a Christian, you walk in the daylight. You are sober-minded, alert, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation because Christ belongs to you, and you belong to Christ. No matter what happens, you know that you are not destined for destruction but for salvation.  


In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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