By Joe Slater
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high
time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is
nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Saturdays and Sundays used to be my opportunities to “sleep in.” School was out, and church wasn’t a priority. On school days, however, my parents would say, “It’s time to get up! You don’t want to be late for school.”
Some of the Christians to whom Paul wrote in Romans needed to wake up! Physical sleep wasn’t the problem; Paul used sleep as a metaphor for their spiritual lethargy.
Who knows why they had become sluggish? Being the capital of the empire, the city of Rome contained every vice, every philosophy, and every strange religion you can imagine. Christians might well struggle to stay true to the gospel. How should they interact with different religious groups? What should their relationship to the government be? How should they treat fellow Christians and people in general? Wrestling with such issues can make you tired and sleepy!
Paul exhorts: “Wake up!” Why? Because “now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” This salvation refers not to our initial cleansing at baptism, but our ultimate salvation when the Lord takes us to Heaven. Paul wasn’t saying that Jesus’ return was imminent, but our departure to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23) draws nearer every day.
Our challenges aren’t identical to those of the Romans, but vice and false religions confront us too. And the same lethargy infects us, especially after we’ve been in Christ several years. Time draws shorter for each of us every day. That being so, may God help us to wake up!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com