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Vol.  9  No. 11 November 2007  Page 5
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Raymond Elliott

Sleeping Sickness

By Raymond Elliott

    Several years ago, there was an article in the newspaper about a schoolteacher in a city in Alaska who lost his job because of his lengthy record of being tardy for his classes. It was revealed that the teacher had a real problem about being hard to wake up in the mornings. His wife related that it was nearly impossible to awaken her husband. Instead of one alarm clock, several were used, but to no avail. Various methods were also used to arouse him from a deep sleep, but such were generally unsuccessful. This individual stated that his problem was inherited and was actually a sickness. One could not help but have some sadness in learning about his plight. But on the other hand, the story could be considered humorous except for the seriousness of the matter. I am reminded of the passage in Proverbs 20:13 that reads, “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”

    The ‘sleeping teacher’ is not alone. The church is blessed with many ‘sleeping brethren’ who are very difficult to arouse out of slumber. I speak not simply of physical encephalitis. Spiritual sleepiness is quite often manifested by the outward actions. Take for example members who drag in late for the periods of Bible study on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening (that is if they come at all). If they treated their employers in the same manner that they treat the Lord, they like the teacher would be fired from their jobs. And there is the slothful singing of many Christians that is indicative of a drowsy heart. There were members of the church in Corinth who lived in such a manner and who manifested a very low interest in the worship, especially in the failure to rightly discern the body of Jesus while partaking of the Lord’s Supper, that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:30, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” That is to say they were dead spiritually speaking. The spirit of Eutychus is still with us also (Acts 20:9). Jokingly we often say that after the preacher’s sermon there is a ‘great awakening.’ How often have you endeavored to get brethren to work, and they habitually drag their feet. The root of the problem is not so much a physical malady as it is a diseased heart. It is rank apathy and lethargy, that is, a state of drowsiness and listlessness brought on by a lack of concern for spiritual matters. The exhortation given by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:11 is “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

    I well remember the unique manner of one of my college instructors in awakening students from their slumber during class. He would speak loudly the student’s name and then he would quote the passage found in Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

    Brethren we need to know “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Otherwise, it is most likely that many members will be found lacking on the Day of Judgment.

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