September 25, 2019·Jon Berglund
“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8
When I graduated from high school (I’ll leave out when that was), my class decided to do a senior-class trip to Honolulu. The trip, for me, was awesome. I traveled around the island, snorkeled the North Shore, hiked Diamond Head at sunset, and ate and ate and ate. Sadly, while I enjoyed the time of my life, most of my classmates spent their time in the hotel, wasted and passed out.
Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t better than they were or something. My life, in fact, was shrouded in rain clouds, like Hawaii itself often is. However, by God’s grace, bits of light constantly broke through and kept me from making a lot of mistakes. Somehow, I knew that it was important to live soberly.
My favorite part of the trip was my last night there, when I stayed up all night to watch the sun rise over the beach of Waikiki, and I was reminded of that moment today in the reading for our Pause Bible Plan.
“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
Pastor-scholar N. T. Wright has noted that this isn’t so much about trying to stay awake during the day when you’re tired (though all parents could appreciate that); it’s staying awake through the dark of night and waiting for that sunrise. It’s living during the night, as though we’re really living in the day.
Now, Paul isn’t admonishing the Thessalonians, and by extension us, to hide away from the world and its darkness. Rather, he’s saying that, while we live in that dark space, we must not live according to its time – we live according to another time, a time when the sun has risen and Jesus has returned. We live as though, at any moment, He will be at our doorstep, like a thief in the night.
God has not called us to avoid our culture, our friends, or our family members because they are in darkness. No, in fact, he has called us to inhabit the very same space, but he has also called us to do so with the light of His presence. Our culture, our friends, our family members need us to remain present, but our presence can and must proclaim with Jesus, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Pastor Jon Berglund