1 Thess 5:5-8 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Paul uses three metaphors to describe believers in Jesus Christ in this passage and then contrasts that with three metaphors of unbelievers. Believers are those who are children of the light, day, and are sober while unbelievers are children of the darkness, night, and drunkenness. Now you may be asking what does this have to do with growing a healthy church? Simply put if your church isn’t dominated by children of the light then it doesn’t matter how many people you have it won’t be healthy. We measure the church by the wrong things. Our tendency is to look at how many people we have, what building we are in, or how much we have in the bank to determine success when Paul is telling us that it is based on if the Light of Christ is predominant.
The phrase “children of” (also “sons of”) means that character trait which is most dominant. This is why Jesus called James and John sons of thunder because their aggressive attitude was most dominant. If we are children of the light then Jesus Christ is the most dominant in our lives. The problem is that the church is sleeping. Verse six warns us not to be caught sleeping. Sleeping is a metaphor for the spiritually indifferent. The truth is that the church is full of children of the light who are sleeping, or just don’t care about the sin in their lives. If that is the case then we need to do something about it.
- Be Awake: We need to wake up to the apathy in our lives and repent of the sin. There isn’t a wholesale call for repentance in the church today. We are content as pastors if the seats are full and don’t want to upset anyone so that they would leave. If you want to kick start some healthy growth in your church have repeated calls for repentance within your church. This will upset the malaise because nobody wants their sins pointed out. It our job as pastors to wake our people up.
- Be Alert: There also needs to be a return to righteousness. We need to be on the look out for the in our lives. I have sat in my office with too many people who realized that too late. Let’s be proactive and resist the sin and temptation in our lives. Spend time in prayer, dig deep into the word of God, root out those areas in our lives that are causing repetitive sin.
- Be Sober: Finally we need to be sober. To be sober means to be free of intoxicants. That means anything in our life that controls us like alcohol, drugs, smoking, food, etc… needs to be gotten ridden of and ceased in our lives. I wrote here how there is a rising problem with drinking and the younger generations. It hasn’t fully manifested but mark my words in five years we will have a full scale epidemic on our hands in the church.
In we are going to grow a healthy church we need to make sure that the people on the inside are children of the light. This means waking up to sin spiritual indifference in our lives and getting rid of all the sinful compromise in our hearts. If that happens God will resurrect dying churches and revive cold hearts. Then we will be primed for growth like we never experienced before.