Revelation 3:2-3 (NLT)
“Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.”
When I read this, at first, it sounds pretty blunt. I feel like I am back in 5th grade and Sister Margaret Michelle (henceforth known as SMM for reasons of brevity) yanked me out of class to have a ‘discussion’ in the corridor because she just found out I didn’t do my book report…again. Does anyone really care about Ramona Quimby?
SMM had a special way of making you feel pretty pathetic, small, and ashamed. With a single look she could put you back in your place (which was your chair, but you wished your place was somewhere inside your desk so you could escape the look). If she had to do more than that, you knew you were in trouble. There was no in between with SMM. If the look didn’t work, there was no level 2. You went straight to level 10; maximum warp, Ludicrous Speed, whatever you want to call it. Learn to obey the look.
At the same time she was one of the most loving, caring women you could ever meet. You wanted to please SMM. Because when she smiled, the whole room lit up. When the look went away, and the skin on her face cracked, and the strings hiding behind her nun hat were pulled back to reveal her teeth, all was right with the world and what was left was the sparkle of her small little eyes; eyes that had studied God’s word, eyes that had seen God work, eyes that had changed the lives of children for decades (maybe even centuries – that woman was old!).
Revelation seems to be giving us a command to get right with God, to turn away from our sins, to do the damn book report! And it is. We are being told to be like we were when we first believed. When it was all so new and shiny and pretty. When it seemed so easy to be a Jesus Freak. When we could hear God’s voice and we knew exactly what we were supposed to do. When even hymns sounded good. It was that time when your sin was first washed away and you felt clean and new. Nothing could touch you. Satan was a punk loser with no power over you. And you were going to go out and unashamedly spread the word of God to every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. Who could be against you if God was for you? Raise your hands high and sing that worship song brothers and sisters!
And then Monday came and you had to get up and go to work. You got in the same car you had on Friday and drove the same route to work you’ve driven for the last 5 years. You walked through the same doors with the same people and sat down at the same desk and turned on the same computer. You answered emails. You got coffee. You had your breakfast. You glanced at the news. And all of the sudden you were right back where you were before. Had anything really changed?
Maybe it took longer than a day. Maybe you got a good week or two in as a spirit filled Christian. Maybe you even went a month. If you were really lucky you got two or three months. But eventually, it faded away. You lost your Jesus MoJo. From time to time you would be reignited by a song or a sermon. You read an encouraging message from Joel Osteen and you got pumped up again, but never like that first time. It’s never like it was. Not that it can’t be. We just let it slip away. “Your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.”
So yeah, Revelation is trying to wake us up, to shake us out of our rut. It’s time to find that fire again. It’s time to be revived.
But look closer, do you see it? He says, “Repent and turn to me again.”
How awesome is our God? We get an again. And we just don’t get one again. We get as many agains as we need. We get as many agains as it takes. Why? Because our God loves us. Because our God desperately wants to have an intimate relationship with us. Because our God will go to any lengths to make sure that we have the opportunity to live with him for eternity…right up until he comes back. Then time is up. Then there is no again. But right now, you still have an again.
If you’ve lost your faith. If you’ve fallen away. If you haven’t met the requirements of our God. It’s ok. Right now you can repent and turn to him again, and he will accept you with open arms and a big smile. You didn’t lose him. He didn’t forget you. He was always there, waiting patiently for you to wake up!
What was it like for you when you first believed?