In Gospel Wakefulness, Jared Wilson addresses numb Christianity, the kind that perhaps started off with an emotional high but settles into something more like cruise control. The antidote is, as Wilson puts it, "gospel wakefulness".
Wilson took some time to answer a few questions for us on the nature of gospel wakefulness:
Can you explain what you mean by the term “gospel wakefulness”?
Gospel wakefulness is my phrase for an enduring astonishment or awe over what God has done for us in Christ. It would be akin to revival or renewal, but on the personal scale.
You mention that there’s nothing we can do to be “gospel wakened.” How does gospel wakefulness happen?
Gospel wakefulness is the result of beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel in the midst of profound brokenness. As in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we receive the word of God in much affliction and the result is the joy of the Holy Spirit.I say that gospel wakefulness isn't something we can do but something that happens to us because most of us don't choose brokenness, and none of us just decides to find Jesus glorious, we either behold him that way or we don't.
I remember my daughter Gracie at one meal, after my wife and older daughter were trying to convince her to like a particular vegetable, saying "You can't just decide to like something. You have to actually like it. Your taste buds have to change or something." And she's exactly right. None of us can just decide to be awed by Jesus; we have to actually be awed by him Our spiritual "taste buds" have to change. Typically a deep brokenness over sin or suffering is what helps us lose taste for things that don't really satisfy and clear our palate to taste and see that the Lord is good.
What are some signs of not yet being awakened to the gospel?
I actually provide a short list of diagnostic statements along these lines in the book, a list of signs that may indicate the absence of gospel awe. The list of signs includes:
1. The gospel doesn’t interest you—or it does, but not as much as other religious subjects.
2. You take nearly everything personally.
3. You frequently worry about what other people think.
4. You treat inconveniences like minor (or major) tragedies.
5. You are impatient with people.
6. In general, you have trouble seeing the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Gal. 5:22–23).
7. The Word of God holds little interest.
8. You have great difficulty forgiving.
9. You are told frequently by a spouse, close friend, or other family members that you are too “clingy” or too controlling.
10. You think someone besides yourself is the worst sinner you know.
11. The idea of gospel centrality makes no sense to you.
What are the fruits of gospel wakefulness? What goes gospel wakefulness do in a Christian’s life?
Two of the most prominent fruits of gospel wakefulness are beautifully ironic: confidence and humility. Because gospel wakefulness emerges from the tilled soil of personal brokenness, it helps us see our wispy size next to the supremacy and preeminence of Christ the conquering Savior. And because gospel wakefulness is an awe over all that Christ has done for us -- and all Christ is for us -- in his gospel, it empowers us to live confidently and honestly. Hidden in him, we have nothing left to hide. Stirred to better know his deep love for us and the righteousness he clothes us with for all eternity, we understand that, as Richard Sibbes says, "a Christian is a person who cannot be conquered."
How does gospel wakefulness affect your study of Scripture? Prayer?
Gospel wakefulness gives the Christian a greater sensitivity to the Scriptures, and a more eager sense of drinking from it lustily as from the fountain of life. Gospel wakefulness gives the believer a better lens with which to find Jesus and his gospel in the texts of the Bible, including the ones where he is not explicitly mentioned, as in the Old Testament. And gospel wakefulness takes us to prayer in expectancy, worship, and gratitude. C.S. Lewis says that every person naturally praises what he finds praiseworthy; it is an automatic response of worship. We will respond accordingly to the things that move us in worshipful ways. Captured by the Spirit of awe in the gospel of Jesus, the wakened Christian goes supernaturally to prayer to the Father as a natural rhythm of life.