Thursday, December 10, 2009
One of the common themes of Advent is the contrast between light and dark, between being aware and being "in the dark," regarding the things of God and God's coming future. One passage I was reading lately in my devotional time really caught my attention, particularly as its rendered in The Message version: "You're sons of Light and daughters of Day...so let's not sleepwalk through life like those others...." (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).
I thought about this as I was going about my business during the day, particularly in places in my own community or a nearby larger city, observing those around me. I see people of all ages, races, stations in life. I see families with their children or spouses. And they are very much attentive to their endeavors, whether it's shopping, eating, or some other activity. But I wonder if they're oblivious to God, to God's desire to be in relationship with them, and to what God is doing in the world. Even though they seem very alert, I wonder if they're "sleepwalking," oblivious to the life God wants for them. What such thoughts or musings arouse in me regarding them is not judgment or disapproval, but rather sadness - sadness at what they're missing out on. My prayer is for God to help me to try to look at them through His eyes. And when I succeed at that, even just a little, my heart breaks. The same passage of Scripture admonishes us who live as disciples of Jesus Christ to be alert, to keep our eyes open. The main thrust is to keep our eyes open to what God is doing in the world. But it occurs to me that often we Christians are so caught up in our own agendas and ideas of what we think God is doing that we become oblivious to those around us, particularly those who don't know God. It's as if we ourselves are sleepwalking through life, not noticing the hurting people around us (even when their hurting isn't obvious - even to them).
I believe one of the things God wants me to be alert about and "wake up" to is to those people He has placed around me to love and reach out to with His love. In verse 11, we are called upon to encourage those around us and endeavor that "no one is left out, no one left behind." I believe that is God's heart. Let it be our heart, too, especially this Advent.