“So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake…since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation…Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, 11
According to the, Global Language Monitor, “woke” is the top trending word of 2019 (as of July).
In case this term, used as slang, is unfamiliar to you and you don’t have a millennial nearby to ask, “woke” describes being consciousness of an underlying truth that relates to a social injustice. While some think this term is overused and pretentious, the origin of its slang usage is genuine and challenging. To be “woke” is to live awakened to a previously unconsidered oppressive reality.
While the contemporary use of this term has made it trendy, the idea behind it is ancient.
As the Apostle Paul begins to close his letter he calls upon the young church to “stay awake.” Eugene Peterson’s The Message captures the sentiment of these verses beautifully.
“You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.”
Paul encourages the church to nurture an earnestly thoughtful character. He gives an example of the kind of critical thinking he wants them to nurture. In 5:3 Paul warns them to be cautious of those who declare, “Peace and safety.” This was a Roman slogan during the Pax Romana, a time of Roman peace achieved through warfare and subjugation. Paul is asking them to consider, where does your peace come from? What is the true foundation of your peace? What Lord reigns in, with, and through peace?
Just as Christ encouraged us to be wise and discerning, so does Paul encourage the church to grow in understanding. Let us encourage one another to live thoughtfully, to apply love broadly, and to walk as sons of the light and daughters of the day.