New Awakening: A New Consciousness

A while back, I realized that in exploring the new Awakening, I had not begun at the obvious place— “waking up.” I do it every morning, and what is so natural is also metaphorical for experiencing the new Awakening today. I want the first round of posts in this series to glean insights from what we do every day. I begin with the idea that waking up is moving into a new consciousness.

When I awaken, I leave one state of consciousness and move into a new one. I have been asleep; now I am awake. Even if I stay in bed for a while, I am in a new reality. I am awake.

Interestingly, Jesus used the idea of being awake as a metaphor for the spiritual life—having eyes to hear and ears to hear (Mark 8:18), a state of being awake. He expressed this in his ministry of restoring sight to the blind. It was simultaneously an act of compassion and a symbol for opening eyes to see the kingdom of God in their midst.

Restoring sight was one way Jesus re-raised the question God had asked in Isaiah’s day about the new thing that was happening: “Don’t you recognize it?” (Isaiah 43:19). And as we know, some did and some didn’t. Some were asleep and some were awake. Some of the sleepers were very religious in the institutional sense. Some of the awakened ones were not fully welcomed in the temple (except in highly limited and controlled ways), reminding us that when we are exploring Awakening, we must do so in unconventional ways. That was true in Isaiah’s day (e g. 56:1-9), in Jesus’ day (e.g. Matthew 25:40, John 10:16), and in our day as well.

As a result, Paul put into words our great need, “Wake up, sleeper! Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). [1] Until we are awake, we will not recognize the new things God is doing (Isaiah 43:19). But once we are awake, we can never “unsee” them or ignore them. To use another of Paul’s phrases , when we are in Christ, the old passes away and the new comes. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Experiencing the new Awakening is waking up to a new consciousness of God’s unconventional way of doing things–new things that overturn the status quo and overcome evil with good.

[1] Paul’s one-sentence appeal weaves together four passages from Isaiah: 27:19, 51:17, 52:1, and 60:1. This is Paul’s way of showing how the simple exhortation is a thread running through the larger message of the prophet. It is a textual way of saying, “This is a big deal.”

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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