I still remember my first year of college, living on a dormitory floor with some thirty other freshmen. Every morning as I walked to the shower, I would pass through a symphony—or cacophony!—of alarms all ringing, chiming, buzzing, and beeping to their own tone, tempo and volume. Some even began softly and gradually grew louder until they became so unbearable its victim was forced to react.
My roommate Peter, however, brought with him a high-tech stereo that would wake us up to any song we chose the night before. Instead of being jolted from a peaceful slumber by an aggravating alarm, we could drift slowly back to consciousness to the pleasant ballads of James Taylor or the soothing melodies of Enya. There is no question which type of alarm I would rather have welcoming in the new day.
Again, we find a ready parallel in the writings of Paul. As Christians go forth sounding the alarm of the gospel, announcing the arrival of God’s New Day, we should avoid using noisy gongs and clanging symbols to do the job.
In Paul’s famous “Love Poem” he warns Christians of the kind of religiosity that produces a dissonance that detracts others from God rather than drawing them in. “If I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1). Instead of peacefully drawing others to the kitchen table, this loud banging of pots and pans just sends them deeper under the covers.
On the other hand, when the community of God reflects the love of Christ, we become a beautiful symphony, or in Paul’s words, “a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus” (Rom 15:6 MSG).
Far too many people have rejected the wake up call because of a negative alarm clock experience. Let us put away our noisy gongs and clanging symbols and become the chorus of God’s morning melody. As we aspire to lead quiet lives we will begin to win the hearts of day sleepers (1 Thes 4:11-12).
So let your nightlights shine gently through the bedroom door, and in time they will see your good deeds and wake up to glorify your Father in heaven (Matt 5:16).
1. What kind of alarm clock do you have? Beeper? Buzzer? Radio? Mother? Other?
2. What kind of spiritual alarm clock experience did you have when you first woke up to God? Pleasant, loving and gentle? Rude, abrupt and loud?
3. Do you know any “pots and pan” Christians who like to go around making as much noise as they can with their faith? Do they tend to win people to Christ or scare them away?
4. What’s the best way for you to wake up your friends who are asleep to God? What approach should you take?