Woke. It’s an old word. But it has recently entered our English lexicon in a new way.
For generations, we used “woke” to simply refer to waking up from our night sleep, or from an afternoon nap. We said, “I just woke up.”
But if you follow any social media or cultural commentary pieces, you know the word has taken on profound new meaning in recent years.
It’s no longer, “I woke up,” but rather “to be woke.”
To woke means to be alert to injustice in society, especially racism. “We need to stay angry, and stay woke.” When we stay woke, we have a continuing awareness of injustice and inequality and discrimination issues.
Woke has become a social awareness byword for those who are passionate about injustice. Most of us are likely not yet using the word “woke” in this sense.
But the more I think about it, if woke is all about a new awareness to some important reality, then the Bible is full of “woke” moments.
Think of Moses startled by the burning bush.
“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight…’ God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” (Exodus 3:2-5)And suddenly Moses was “woke” to the presence and holiness of God.
Or consider the experience of Jacob. He is running from his brother, Esau. He reaches a certain place, stops for the night, puts a stone under his head and falls asleep. And then he has that amazing dream about the angels of God ascending and descending, and of God speaking to him about the land he will give to Jacob, and his descendants being like the dust of the earth…and how God will not leave him until “I have done what I promised.”
And then Jacob wakes up, and he is really woke! Here’s what he says,
“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it…How awesome is this place.” (Genesis 29:11-17)
There is no doubt Thomas was woke to the reality of who Jesus really was when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his death and resurrection and tells Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28)
Talk about being woke! But my favourite is John. The disciples decide to go fishing after Jesus had again appeared to them. They fished that night but caught nothing. We read that early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore. He called out to them, but it says, “The disciples did not realize it was Jesus.” He tells them to throw their nets on the other side and an incredible moment happens. Suddenly the net was so full of large fish they were unable to haul in the catch.
And then John is suddenly woke. A brilliant awareness comes over him. His spiritual senses are tingling and he says to Peter,
It is the Lord! (John 21:1-7)
The Bible says that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear are blessed because they are spiritually woke. Maybe we could coin a new Beatitude…Blessed are the woke, for their spiritual antenna are up and working, they sense the presence of God, and the person of Christ among us, and they are woke to his purposes, they discern his priorities, and consequently, they walk in his ways, and are blessed.
Maybe we could rewrite our Corpath mission and say it is to pursue excellence in business, in life, and to be woke in spirit.
The Apostle Paul chastises the Corinthians for not being woke when he says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God.” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world…and judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) Clearly, they were not spiritually woke.
On a scale of one to ten, how spiritually woke are you? The Psalmist David said,
Open my eyes that I may see… (Psalm 119:18)
Blessings for a truly “woke” summer.