Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire.
The image of “[waking] from sleep” could be enormously instructive for us as we engage this season of Advent. I don’t know about you, but too often I could fairly assess my spiritual state as one of mild unconsciousness- particularly during seasons like this when the world seems to spin out of control with holiday madness! It’s so much easier to sleep our way through seasons like this because there’s so much more to do and say and think about and act upon. And I will tell you that while it seems simple to just “wake up,” reality is frequently much more difficult. I’m sure you’ve experienced the powerful inertia that works against our attempts to refocus our hearts and minds on Christ- to wake ourselves up. It seems that every time we gain some momentum that will carry us closer to God, some obstacle lands squarely in our path and throws us back into old habits that orient us toward anything and everything but God. But Paul’s word of hope for us today is that “the night is far gone, the day is near!” Why is that a word of hope? Because the day isn’t dawning because of my attempt to be more holy. Rather, the light overcomes the darkness of night because of God’s saving presence on earth in Jesus Christ. It’s God’s work alone that offers us an opportunity to wake from spiritual slumber. The good news for us- the good news of Advent- is that darkness will never have the last word.