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Struggling into Wakefulness

I had a funny idea (it happens every so often): to preach a sermon series called Against the dwarfs (as a sequel to our church’s current series, Against the gods). It would be 7 sermons that take the dominant trait of each of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs – Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc – and explore how that trait represents something amiss in our culture: our slavish dependence on the pharmaceutical-medical complex (Doc), or our chronic apathy (Sleepy), or our media-induced and substance-enhanced false cheer (Happy), or our over-consumption of over-refined foods that deprives us of natural antigens (Sneezy), or our destructive gullibility (Dopey), and so on.

I’m only half kidding.

The Against the gods series has given me fresh eyes to see how our culture warps or counterfeits God’s good gifts. The world, Paul says, tries to “squeeze us into its mould” (Romans 12:2; J.B. Philips version). Preaching about the gods – Mammon, Eros, Bacchus, and the like – has sharpened my discernment of that. I can see with greater clarity the many jarring misalignments between the Kingdom and the world.

I am not by nature a finger-pointer. I don’t find demons under every stone. I don’t walk around in scornful disapproval of all I see. But I do have a growing sense that we are being half-seduced, half-bludgeoned into agreement with beliefs and practices that wither the life Jesus came to give us.

Let’s resolve otherwise.

A friend of mine recently drew my attention to Luke 9:32, part of the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration. J.B. Philips (again) renders it well: “Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep and it was as they struggled into wakefulness that they saw the glory of Jesus.”

It was as they struggled into wakefulness that they saw the glory of Jesus.

That is a good measure how awake you are: how clearly you see the glory of Jesus. Does his glory – who he is and what he’s done – shine brighter and brighter in your eyes? Or are you having trouble seeing? We used to sing a hymn with this potent line, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

If you’re finding the opposite – that the earth gets brighter as Jesus fades – then struggle into wakefulness.

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