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Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro starred in a 1990 movie entitled Awakenings.  In the movie the victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years earlier are offered new hope through a new drug that “wakes them up”, thus the title of the movie.  The main story focuses on Robert DeNiro’s character, who contracted the disease as a young boy that slipped him into a catatonic state and institutionalized him for many years.  Robin Williams character is a doctor who finds a new drug that “wakes up” Robert DeNiro’s character and shows him a whole new world that has totally changed since his sleep.  This movie and it’s plot tell us a lot about a sleeping world of Christians that also have slipped into a mostly catatonic state of existence.  Catatonic in the fact that the influence and the impact of most Christians has become less and less due to the “sleep” that appears to be widespread in our world today.  Things we took for granted as believers years ago no longer exist and the supposed Christian Nation we live in is now considered to be Post Christian.  So what needs to happen when we realize the situation we are living in?   What can we do to be “salt and light” in a world, and specifically a country of leaders”, who have turned their back on God?  Just like in the movie Awakenings they needed a cure, and we also need a cure.  We have drifted far too long while living off our past days of glory and ease of living the Christian Life.   We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by those who will soon enslave our very faith.  We have not been on our knees in prayer near enough!  We have not been willing for God to awaken our hearts to a whole new way of thinking and living.  We have been inoculated by the world’s sweet message that we can do anything by ourselves and let that be our mantra.  And now the very thing we used to warn the world about is our way of living.  WE HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP!!

When thinking about encephalitis  and how it’s contracted you can’t help but relate it to our present condition in our world.  Encephalitis is most often caused by a viral infection.  Many types of viruses may cause it.  Exposure to those viruses can occur through breathing in respiratory droplets from an infected person; eating contaminated food or drink; bites from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects, and skin contact.  But get this.  Other diseases may also cause encephalitis like; measles, mumps, polio, rabies, rubella, and chickenpox.  You may say, “Where are you going with this David?”

Here’s what I am saying.  We have fallen asleep as believers and it has directly started to affect our leaders in our country and the population at large.  Just look at the results of this past election and the dim horizon for those who follow Christ.  It seems like I hear a new story of our country kicking Christians in the face every week.  We must wake up and smell the rotten roses of our society and turn to the only hope we have, Jesus Christ.   How has this happened.  Just like the causes for encephalitis there are causes for our quick downward slide in our country. Some possible causes might include:

1. We are infected.  This lethargy, this lack of fervency in believers has taken on a form in our soul that is ever-increasing and eating away the very fabric of who Christ is in our life.  In Biblical terms we would say “the flesh has become weak” and disease has morphed itself to look healthy.  In other words, our sickness has been made to look normal when the long term effect will be spiritual death.  We have the virus, but we have subdued the symptoms to make us look normal and not worry about it.

2. In our weakened state we cannot see that a process has been taking place and over a period of years the world’s influence has been biting us and poisoning our system.  It may be media influence, wanting to be the next big thing, church made friendly, or just basic unGodly weak tradition.  Whatever it is, the poison has spread to epidemic proportions.

3. Other cults and weak religious denominations have caused us to give credence to their approaches to the faith, even though they don’t match up with the Word of God.   We have accepted them as truth in order to keep everyone happy and now we are bearing the fruit of our indifference.

4. We just don’t care.  The fire just isn’t there anymore and the end result is a person saying those fateful words for any believer, “WHATEVER!”

What does God have to say about all this?  Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:14, “For anything that becomes visible is light.  Therefore, it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”

Jesus Himself said in John 11:11-14 “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”  When God says something is not just dead, but is sleeping, to me it says that there is hope, because the one who gives hope says there is.  In the same way Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth out of the grave, I believe He is calling all believers to shake off the sleeping sickness that has come upon us and step forward in faith and strength.  We can no longer rely on the faith of a few people from the past in our present condition.  We have to blaze our own trails of faith and trust God to supply the “new drug” to wake us up.  We have a sleeping sickness, that may look like death, but it is just a sleeping sickness.  We can awaken.  We can see God move again in our lives and in our nation, but we will have to be about making prayer and a passion for God our focus.  Be encouraged, God knows what we are feeling when we are afraid and lack understanding, and He is able to give us the strength we need.

In Hebrews 4:15 the writer said, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Get in on God’s perspective through reading His Word and you will sense an urgency and a passion that is no longer accepting the status quo.  You will see your faith grow stronger and stronger, and before long you will see God changing things through your life.  Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” 

Well, you figured it out.  Our new drug to get over this sleeping sickness is FAITH.  The only thing you need to do now is “take the drug” and start trusting God for great things through your life, and then you will become an impacter and not a detractor.  Let’s get the momentum going right now and believe that God can still change things, and that He wants to start through me!!!  This is my Awakening.  What is yours?

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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