It’s time for the church to wake up

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The world needs to see the church transfigured into the eternal, divine, powerful, majestic Body of Christ, explains Paul Hudson (inset, above).

I was in my first year at Bible college and had my student placement every Sunday in an old Welsh Chapel that seated 600 people. I went there each week with a team of three other students.

We boosted the congregation and, if it wasn’t raining, we would get ten people for the Sunday morning celebration! And most Sundays the Spirit would speak through the gift of tongues and interpretation! The six members wouldn’t sit together; they were scattered throughout the ground floor, trusting God that he would send in not just people to fill the lower level but also the gallery too.

Revival was coming! However, they wouldn’t sit together pre-revival.

One lady rose and spoke in tongues. We waited, and another rose to give the interpretation.

But often the lady who gave the message in tongues didn’t feel that the interpretation was correct, so she would correct the interpretation with something like, “What the Lord meant to say is …”

I remember one particular Sunday morning when the lady with the first interpretation decided to counter the correction.

“Actually NO,” she said. “The Lord was correct the first time!”

This pantomime was part of my development as a Bible college student! If I’d had the courage that I have today, I would have carried out my threat of countering both messenger and interpreter by standing and saying, “Actually, you are both wrong,” says the Lord of Hosts. “I have been silent the whole time!”

The problem? There was a little evidence of being alive but not enough; they were asleep.

Are we asleep? Are we irrelevant? Are we not connected to what are the important issues?

I was talking with a pastor – who had recently started at his church – about the challenge of the mission he faces.

He told me the problem was that the neighbourhood didn’t even know the church was there.

It had fallen asleep.

He was trying to wake it up.

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God’” (Revelation 3:1-2).

AW Tozer famously wrote that if the Holy Spirit was completely withdrawn from the church, “95 per cent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference!”

Sigmund Freud said that we do things asleep we would not do if awake! It can be disappointing being part of a group who are snoring.


Three times Jesus found his closest three disciples sleeping whilst he was going through his trials. Though there was little chastising by him, we can certainly sense his disappointment.

In Luke 9: 28-32 we read: “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

“Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.”

As they would do in Gethsemane, the disciples fell asleep. During the hours of prayer, they dozed off.

They were tired from walking and also from what might have been an emotional roller coaster of the eight days since Jesus announced he would die and that they would have a cross to carry also.

Perhaps that’s their excuse. We may be able to understand this ourselves and not be too critical.

At what point did they wake up? Luke suggests that they became fully awake once Jesus had transfigured into his heavenly appearance and after Moses and Elijah had arrived.

These three apostles knew they were called by Jesus to accompany him in prayer, but they fell asleep.

During the prayer of Jesus he was transfigured and the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision is now there on that mountaintop.

But the disciples were asleep.

The glory of God is shining all around; the once-in-a-lifetime revelatory divine experience is right there; but they were asleep.

The brightness of the moment was more vivid than the midday sun and yet they are closed in the darkness of sleep.

If it was not for the grace of God they would have missed the glory of God completely while they snoozed on.

The disciples did wake from their sleep.

It took some time, they had to become fully awake, but then they saw and heard, although they didn’t properly understand.

Their sleep had missed the move from the earthly to the divine in the place of prayer.

The prayer of Jesus was the explanation, but their sleep blinded them to it.

The glory of Christ – who he is – far outweighs who we are. His brilliance shines more brightly than ours. His identity radically impacts our identity. Our hope is that in his grace, he will wake us. And in our waking we too will share in his transfiguration.

The world needs to see the church transfigured into the eternal, divine, powerful, majestic Body of Christ.

From Direction Magazine

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