Mar1ThuGospel Wakefulness, Chapters 2 & 3 March 1, 2018
This week you have a break from The Imperfect Disciple if you are reading it for the CPR we started weeks ago. So today I’ll drop another post on Gospel Wakefulness, which I am finding superb.
In Gospel Wakefulness author Jared Wilson indicates that to be in a place of gospel wakefulness means that “God brought the gospel to bear powerfully in the midst of … brokenness” (29). The experience of brokenness is integral to the experience of gospel wakefulness.
Wilson sees brokenness falling into three general categories: the pain of life, the punishment of consequences, and the persecution of faith.
The pain of life, according to Wilson, is the “cost of life in a broken world” (43). It is life in a world experiencing the consequences of mankind’s sin, but it is not to be confused with the consequences we each face as a result of our own, personal sin. The pain of life can be intense and sporadic; but it can also be intense and consistent, dealing a “succession of blows that prove too much to bear” (44). Some of the people in my life whom I respect the most have lived, are living, or have died in the fury of these successive blows. These people “are those who have no promises of a better tomorrow this side of the new heavens and the new earth. They pray for relief with each new day, but nevertheless live with terminal cancer, permanent paralysis, or incurable illness. But they have found gospel wakefulness in assigning these things to the necessary dying to self. The internal churning and the days of suffering push them beyond themselves, stir them to minute by minute assess the deterioration of their own body. They know, like Job that though their bodies may be destroyed, they will ultimately see their Redeemer in the flesh (Job 19:26)” (44). One mentor, in particular, exists in the pain of life with joy and courage that is inspiring.
The punishment of consequences speaks of brokenness that comes through the “ramifications of our sins” (46). Wilson explains that this brokenness, for the gospel-wakened, is a severe mercy in that they recognize in this pain both the damage and depravity of sin as well as the mercy of Christ who has saved us from these sins. For those living life in gospel wakefulness, the “punishments of consequences are cross-shaped reminders not of spiritual burdens we must still carry but of the weight of the burden Christ has carried for us” (47). The brokenness that comes from the painful consequences of sin to those who get the gospel leave them not with feelings of unforgiveness but with assurances of just how much they have been forgiven.
The third way of brokenness whereby gospel wakefulness comes is the persecution of the faith. Admittedly, we do not know much of this in North America compared to the rest of the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ face daunting situations. Wilson notes the correlation between brokenness and gospel wakefulness by pointing to the flourishing of the church in harsh cultural environments and the languishing of the church in comfortable conditions. However, Wilson also notes that though the persecution of the world may ebb and flow in the civilizations of men, the persecution of the righteous knows no boundaries or borders when it comes to the onslaught of the enemy of our souls. Whether persecution is worldly or other-worldly, the gospel-wakened understand that brokenness was used by God as part of the path to their wakening.
In looking at these three tracks to brokenness, and how God uses them to wake us up to the wonders of the gospel, Wilson helps us put our pain in perspective. This is encouraging for me. It’s encouraging in light of the pain in my own life and it’s encouraging in light of the pain I see all too regularly in the lives of our congregation. Being real about the brokenness leads to being real about the gospel. That is something we all need, and brokenness is the way.