The Drunk & Sleeping Church Of Ease Vs. The Sober & Awake Militant Church

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

It makes a lot of sense why people drink and use substances.  While there are some who turn to drugs and alcohol for social reasons, many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of escaping a burdened conscience and the challenges that life presents.  The bottle provides temporary solace – it can provide a numbing effect, which can bring temporary relief during the grind of life, the sorrows of the day, and the burdens of the mind.  

Now, perhaps you are a person who does not struggle with drugs or alcohol.  If so, God be praised.  However, you are not off the hook.  You see, other than drugs and alcohol, we humans seek all sorts of coping mechanisms to escape the burdens of life and ease a troubled conscience.  For example, we can use hobbies such as art, music, sports, quilting, woodworking, exercise, and reading to be a distraction for us.  Just like drugs and alcohol, these things can function in a way to help us cope with unresolved issues in our lives.  And so, instead of facing the big things in life, we can run to all sorts of things to distract us – to numb us asleep in this vale of tears.  Like the ostrich that supposedly puts its head in the sand when trouble approaches, we, too, can run to other things to distract us, numb us, and grant us temporary relief.  Simply stated, we would rather go through life metaphorically drunk and asleep than sober and awake.

Now, the reason why I mention all of this is this is exactly what the Apostle Paul indicates in the reading from 1 Thessalonians.  Notice the words that he uses.  Paul uses the words darkness, night, sleep, and drunk.  That is to say, the Apostle Paul asserts that many are sleepwalking through life.  They are not living in reality.  They are not living in truth.  They are complacently living life in a metaphoric drunken stupor while stumbling around in the dark. 

While it might be easy to point the finger at the pagan world, we Christians easily succumb to this kind of living as well.  In fact, there are whole churches that specialize in helping Christians to return to a drunken stupor. These churches of ease are more concerned about making Christians comfortable in darkness than calling Christians to faithfulness in the Light.  For example, to be a church of ease that sleeps in the darkness, the pastors, leadership, and parishioners must agree to several things:

1) First, alarming words like sin, wrath, hell, the final judgment, death, suffering, and the Law are avoided at all costs. In fact, they are not mentioned at all, for if they were, it would be difficult to sleep.

2) Secondly, miracles and the Divine must be diminished.  Things such as Jesus raising the dead, Jesus walking on water, Jesus dying on a bloody cross, and the resurrection of the dead are downplayed, for these things are often too bright making it difficult to sleep.  

3) Thirdly, these churches of ease will focus on neat little recipes to fix tiny little problems.  Sermons in these churches will speak to tiny little problems like managing better finances, being a well-rounded parent, having happiness in your job, etc. You know what I am talking about – issues in our lives that can be overcome with a little elbow grease, a bit of charisma, and positive thinking.    These kind of themes are like quiet lullabies that keep a person snoring along.  

And so, in the end, these churches of ease ignore the realities of life, they downplay the activity and work of Christ, and they offer up silly little solutions – solutions that are found in fortune cookies or the self-help section at Barnes and Noble.  To the point, these churches of ease are asleep, and so are the parishioners.  They are stumbling around in the darkness.  They are drunk.  And people in America – they just eat this stuff up.  In droves, they go to these churches on Sundays to be put to sleep.    

But Baptized Saints, this is not you.  Indeed, this is not who you are.  You see, the Apostle Paul tells you that you are not in darkness.  You do not belong to the night.  You are not asleep.  You are not drunk because you are sons of Light.  You are daughters of the Day.  Christ has snatched you from darkness and placed you in the Light of His Kingdom.  And so, because you belong to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, you do not sleepwalk through life like others.  You see, while the rest of the world sleepwalks through life while being intoxicated with a thousand things to numb them to reality and numb them to the reality of Jesus’ second coming, you, though, are creatures of the Day.  You walk in the daylight - sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of Salvation - for you belong to Christ and have His Word of truth.

You see, Christ’s church was never called to be a church of ease.  A church of ease is a false church.  But rather, as Christ’s church, we are the Church Militant.  The Church Militant, on the other hand, is a church that is not asleep but attentive and alert - grounded in reality and truth, while anticipating Christ’s second coming where he will judge the living and the dead and ultimately make all things new.  

You see, the Church Militant does not go the way of drowsy false security – the Church Militant does not seek ways to keep parishioners asleep, comfortable, and happy.  Instead, the Church Militant is awake to the problems of sin, the reality of God’s wrath, the dread of hell, God’s divine Law, and Christ’s second coming in judgment.  Furthermore, the Church Militant does not withhold God's robust miracles and Divine intervention into human history through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  In other words, the Church Militant does not waste its time on silly myths, short-sighted life hacks, and lame contemporary trends.  Instead, the Church Militant – despite the calamity that this world coughs up - proclaims the Message of Sin, the Message of Christ’s mighty forgiveness, and the Message of Christ’s second coming to make all things new.  Again, the Church Militant challenges, warns, and calls Christians to live in the day – to be sober and awake as children of the Light. 

Baptized Saints of St. Paul’s Lutheran, as we come to the close of the church year and the beginning of the new church year, the message could not be any clearer: we boldly come to this sanctuary with the echoing grinds of life, the sorrows of our past week, and the burdens of our conscience to continually receive Christ – the Light of the world.   Indeed, we come to this place to receive the forgiveness of sins in Absolution for a clean conscience.  We come to hear the Word of God to shape our minds as we travel through the daily grind.  We come to this place to receive the Sacrament for the strengthening of faith amid life’s sorrows.  We come to be reminded that we are in the light of day and do not belong to the night.   

Furthermore, as children of the day, we do not shy away from difficult Biblical subjects and are not afraid of critiquing the mantras and trends of culture.  But instead, because we have the Lord’s Word and because we belong to the day, we can diligently and earnestly examine everything in light of the Holy Scriptures.  

And finally, while the church of ease will have no time for solid teaching but will fill up on spiritual junk food and catchy opinions that tickle their fancy, St. Paul’s Lutheran cannot and will not turn its back on truth to chase foolish mirages.  How can we?  We have been purchased and won by Christ!  Humbly stated, we must recognize that while the church of ease will focus on comfort and trying not to disturb people’s feelings, the Church Militant does not seek out personal comfort or warm feelings, for that is not what we truly need as children of the day.  Instead, Christ’s Militant Church will deliver assurance and faithfulness through Christ’s Word and Sacraments.  Yes, you heard that correctly; Christianity is not about personal comfort lending itself to the night, but instead, it is about assurance in Christ that lives in the light of day.  Christianity is not about pleasant personal feelings that lead to sleep but steadfast faithfulness in Christ that leads to us being awake.  

Baptized Saints, wake up, sober up, live in the day as God’s Children, for that is who you are!  Accept the hard times along with the good while knowing that you belong to Christ and knowing that Christ is coming back soon for you.  Be ready, awake, sober, and in the day, wearing the armor of light and the helmet of salvation, for you are sons of Light and daughters of the Day.  Yes, be ready, awake, and sober, for your Jesus is coming back to make all things anew.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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