The Moment to Wake Up is Now!
February 21, 2012


Sermon written by Ernesto Martín Guerrero Zavala, director of INESIN and pastor of Buen Pastor Church, Grijalva, Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas. Guerrero delivered this sermon, based on Romans 13: 11-14, Sunday, October 26, 2011. Translated from Spanish.

Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)

11And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

The moment to wake up is now, even though it isn´t possible to know, guess or even imagine exactly what time it is. Our salvation seems farther away and more unclear than when we first believed. Who knows how far gone is the night or how close is the day. However, no matter how dark our world may seem, we must light a candle: we must live correctly, as if a multitude were observing us in broad daylight. We must not live in debauchery (i.e. without restraint); neither in what we eat, nor in what we drink, nor in our sexual relationships, nor in abuse of anyone. We have powerful appetites and we must limit them.

We cannot eat limitlessly because if we do, we will not be able to limit what we drink. Consequently, we will not be able to satisfy our sexual appetites and we will unleash a wave of disputes amongst us, with each person trying to dominate another. If we begin to live a life of indulgence without limitations, nothing in the world will satisfy us; we will begin to produce arms instead of food; we will invade other countries over petty disputes; we will attempt to strip poor regions and nations of their natural resources, snatching everything we can while simultaneously overwhelming them with violence. If we begin to live a life of indulgence, there will not be sufficient cocaine to satisfy us. There will not be sufficient pornography or material possessions to give meaning to our existence.
Enough of this stupidity. We are going to destroy ourselves and the world we live in.

Maybe a meteor won´t fall from the sky and maybe Jesus won´t return. Maybe if we continue on this path we will only sink into terrible misery and never achieve the natural equilibrium attained by the rest of Earth´s species. Some species have become extinct without destroying the world; they simply “were” and then their time passed. Unfortunately for the world, we are not going to extinguish ourselves as fast as would be convenient. The delicate equilibrium that makes the miracle of what we call life possible will be thrown into the trash by the most intelligent and most stupid form of life: the human being.

Enough of this life of debauchery. Maybe it is time for us to again give our individual and communal lives a small portion of what they deserve.

We owe ourselves an apology. We have abused nature and ourselves so much that we owe ourselves an apology. Punishing the “bad guys” will not heal us. We have to forgive and transform hearts.

We owe ourselves respect. Enough forcing others to thinking and live as we do. If we don´t learn to respect our differences, we will never live in peace. We should respect religious and cultural differences; we can, and perhaps should, share any knowledge or experience that has positively impacted us, but we cannot impose this knowledge by force. We should respect the journey of every individual and community and the worldview of every culture. Forced conversion to the Christian faith is not the way of Jesus, but the way of powerful nations that consider themselves Christian.

We owe ourselves honesty. Enough living at the expense of others. No one should earn more than his or her labor deserves, nor should anyone get out of paying for what he or she consumes. Electricity production has come at the high price of affecting our waterways, leading to the displacement of entire populations who must find new ways to support themselves economically. It is unjust that the affected populations and the environment are left to pay the price. It is perverse that we enjoy unpaid benefits and in this way we will never learn to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions. We should pay for everything we consume in this world, up to and including the air we breathe. We should preserve green areas on our planet as well as the purity of our oceans, which generate more breathable air than any other area on Earth.

We owe ourselves a collective and iron-willed desire for peace. This is the determination to find, by every means possible, a way to live in peace, with justice, without violence, constructing a social contract based on values like friendship, fraternity and solidarity. This social contract should not be based on riches or their accumulation, but should be committed to redefining the meaning of wealth. Because no one should lack the goods that others have in excess. Because wealth is not opulence and poverty is not living without technology; because happiness is not found in material things, but in relationship. Whoever (whether individuals or nations) puts his or her material interests before the common good will never understand this.

If we are not capable of living in peace, promoting dignity and justice between all people in the world, politics, religion and science are useless; we will not be worthy of this world or any other, no matter what Messiah we wait for.

We embrace the faith of a man who taught that life does not consist of the material goods one possesses.

We embrace the faith of a man who taught that greatness lies in service.

We embrace the faith of a man who taught that love is the fulfillment of God´s will.

And yes, we wait for his return. This is the Christian hope that consoles me when I lose faith in humanity.

Instituto de Estudios e Investigación Intercultural, A.C.

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