New Awakening: A New Perspective

Waking up gives us a new perspective. I went to bed in the dark, but I awaken in the light. Things look different. The movement from darkness to light is a primary metaphor in describing spiritual awakening. So much so that the Christian year begins with the announcement that the people living in darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9:2). The light is Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12).

Darkness is sin, but that is too vague to be of much help when it comes to a new Awakening. Every time God does a new thing (Isaiah 43:19) it is in relation to specific things. In Isaiah’s day it was imperialism—the fallen world’s collusion between politics and religion to preserve the powerful in their status and privilege, while fostering injustice and oppression. [1] Darkness is always specific.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) were in collusion with Herodians and Romans. The very people who should have known better had sold their souls in their thirst for power and notoriety. Jesus exposed their darkness, and the religious-political system crucified him. Darkness is always specific.

A new perspective is the God-given ability to recognize the fallen-world kingdoms, not only in the society, but also when they manifest themselves in religion. In our day we see them in such things as religious fundamentalism, Christian Nationalism, dualistic thinking, legalism, racism, classism, homophobia, gender inequality, economic disparity, partisanship, political demagoguery, sectarianism, violence, and the idolatry that makes the status quo a sacred cow. Darkness is always specific.

A new Awakening gives us perspective to see things as they are, not as the purveyors of darkness say that they are. Perspective is part of the new Awakening, because until you see things in the light, the fallen world looks like the kingdom of God, when the fact is, the fallen world is a “dirty rotten system” (Dorothy Day). Perspective is part of the new Awakening because it is only when we see Reality that we have the courage and the will to overcome evil with good.

[1] Walter Brueggemann writes about imperialism in nearly all his books. His book, ‘Journey to the Common Good’ is an insightful look at imperialism and the means for overcoming it

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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