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Woke vs. Awake

What is the meaning of "woke culture"? Being "woke" isn't the same as being "awake." Why does being awake to God's righteousness benefit you more?

Woke vs. Awake 

Brother Joe Velasquez: In this rapidly changing world with rapidly changing values, there are words that go in and out of fashion. One such word is the term “woke.” What is the meaning of being woke? Well, if we would turn to (June 2022) for what this word means today, we can find the following definition: 

  1. having or marked by an active awareness of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those related to civil and human rights
  2. aware of the facts, true situation, etc.

So, by definition, being “woke” sounds like a good thing. It is actually very important to be aware of our situation so as to avoid unknowingly doing what is wrong. But what are the criteria in order to determine what is right or wrong or just or unjust? Well, that is what we will be learning today on The Message

[Show open] 

Brother Joe: Hello, I’m Brother Joe Velasquez, and with me here in our studios in Anaheim, California, is Brother Richie Juatco. Hi, Brother Richie! 

Brother Richie Juatco: Hi, Brother Joe! Since we can agree that being awake or aware of our situation is important, but at the same time, understanding that values and even definitions of words are rapidly changing, we should turn to the Bible for stability and guidance. Based on what is written in the Bible, what should we be awake to especially in these times of rapidly changing beliefs and values, Brother Joe? 

Wokeness and the gospel

Brother Joe: Brother Richie, let’s turn to the Bible for the answer. Here, and I Corinthians 15:34, this is what’s stated here: 

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 

[1 Corinthians 15:34 New King James Version] 

Wake up! Do what is right. Stop doing wrong things. Some of you do not know God at all. I say these things to you to make you ashamed. 

[1 Corinthians 15:34 Worldwide English (New Testament)]

Brother Joe: Dear viewers, here, the Bible clarifies that we should be “awake to righteousness”. Notice those who are not awake to righteousness, no matter how “woke” they feel they might be, well, they are those who “do not have the knowledge of God” or “do not know God at all.” 

Brother Richie: That’s right. So, as early as now, we can see where there might be some differences between “woke” vs. “awake” according to the Bible. So, Brother Joe, what does that mean, being “awake to righteousness”? 

Brother Joe: Well, Brother Richie, it means, as the Bible also states, that we need to “stop doing wrong things” and do what is right.

Brother Richie: Well, that’s right, but obviously, no one in their right mind would argue against that: it’s good to do what is right and it’s bad to do what is wrong. But we know that people today, have their own version of what is right or righteous. And since we are learning that we need to be “awake to righteousness,” well, whose righteousness should be used as the criteria of what we should base that on?

Brother Joe: Well, we’re not going to give our own opinion, Brother Richie. Let’s just turn to the Holy Bible, here, in Romans 1:16-17, and this is what we can read:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” 

[Romans 1:16-17 New King James Version]

Brother Joe: And so, according to the Bible, it is the righteousness of God that we need to be awake to.

Brother Richie: Brother Joe, how would we know what the righteousness of God is?

Brother Joe: Well, the Bible states that it is the “gospel of Christ.” Therefore, the gospel or the words of God written in the Bible are how we can determine if we’re doing what is right or wrong. Now, just how important is it to use God’s words written in the Bible, His righteousness, as a guide in determining right from wrong? Well, the Bible also clarifies that “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Now, it’s true that nowadays people feel like they have their own version of right, good or true, and people being self-righteous or “virtue signaling” unfortunately are commonly seen today. But the only righteousness that actually really matters is God’s righteousness. Right, Brother Richie? 

Brother Richie: That’s correct. So since the term “woke” today is used as an active awareness of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those related to civil and human rights, why are God’s words (His way or His instructions) why is that the way to properly achieve this? Brother Joe, how can following God’s words help people with injustices?

Brother Joe: Well, that’s a very good question, Brother Richie. Let’s read the answer here, in Deuteronomy 32:3-4, and this is what is stated: 

For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. 

[Deuteronomy 32:3-4 New King James Version] 

Brother Joe: Now, here we can see that God is “a God of truth and without injustice.” The Bible makes clear that “all His ways are justice.” Therefore, to effectively fight and escape injustice, people need to follow God’s ways. Therefore, learning God’s ways (His laws and commandments) needs to be a priority for everyone. Now, this is important to know because unfortunately, we can see different people reacting and responding to the injustices that they see and experience in ways that actually aggravate the problem.

Brother Richie: That is so true, Brother Joe! They actually worsen the problem. The problem we can witness is, instead of taking the time to learn God’s ways of justice, many come up with their own way of dealing with injustice or use their own righteousness as the criteria to actually solve these. And that is exactly what we should not do.

Brother Joe: But Brother Richie, you know, many people might be thinking, “Why not?” Why can’t people come up with their own way of handling these injustices and various troubles today?

Brother Richie: That’s a good question. Let’s turn to what is actually written, here, in Proverbs 16:25. It says:

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

[Proverbs 16:25 New King James Version] 

Brother Richie: This is the reason why people should not just come up with their own way of facing or handling problems in life, like injustices, it is the biblical truth we just read: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” 

How many times did we think, say, or do something that we thought was right only to find out later that it was actually wrong? We often hear each other and ourselves say, “If only I knew…” every time a mistake happened. That’s because there’s only so much we, as human beings, can actually know. We have limitations and trying to come up with our own way of handling problems. It will only get us so far, Brother Joe. 

Christian culture

Brother Joe: So, Brother Richie, instead of coming up with our own way of fighting injustice and risking a very big possibility of making the wrong decision and making matters worse, well, what’s the advice of the Bible?

Brother Richie: Well, let’s go to what’s written for the guidance that we’re looking for. We’ll stay in Proverbs 3: 5-6. It says: 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 

[Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version] 

Brother Richie: So the Bible’s advice for all of us is to “trust in the Lord.” Now, how much should we trust in God? Well, it specifies, “with all [our] hearts”. So it’s not something that we should just do sometimes. We should wholeheartedly trust in God. And this is the reason why we reiterate the importance of learning God’s words and His laws. Because people would not be able to trust God with all their hearts if they don’t know what God is requiring of them.

But what are we cautioned not to do so that we can follow the instruction to place our trust in God? The Bible says “lean not on your own understanding.” Well, how can one prove he or she is trusting in God? According to what we’ve read, it says, acknowledge—“in all your ways acknowledge him.” So we should always consider God in everything that we do, in how we handle ourselves in different situations. If we always strive to do what God wants and respond to problems based on His instructions, what would be the outcome? The Bible states “[God] will make your paths straight.”

Brother Joe: So in other words, Brother Richie, the proper way to prove we are really awake or aware of the things that really matter is by making sure we are trusting in God and following His ways. And so we go back to the term “woke” and how it’s being used today. Although the intention or changing definition of the word “woke” seems like a good idea, we have to be very careful in how to actually achieve that.

Brother Richie: That is very true, again, Brother Joe. There are many people all over the internet and social media sharing ideas, promoting how to handle the injustices happening, but what we are learning is that it’s not a personal opinion or ideas from other people, no matter how powerful, well-educated or popular they are, that would make us truly awake, but rather God’s words. Thus, we can again see the difference between being woke vs. awake. Being truly awake or aware of our situation is knowing and following God’s words.

Brother Joe: But Brother Richie, how does the Bible describe people trying to handle the problems and injustices of this life, but without the guidance of God’s words?

Brother Richie: Listen to this pronouncement written here in Isaiah 59:10. This is the answer to your question. It says: 

and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead.

[Isaiah 59:10 Good News Bible]

Brother Richie: People without God’s words are compared to those who “grope about like blind people.” And we can see from the ever-growing polarization of people due to various issues and how to solve them, many cannot see the clear path to take. I mean, even leaders of organizations or even governments—whether they be of third world countries or wealthy “superpowers”—they are not able to effectively solve many major problems, which include injustices and prejudices. 

Now, why are those without the guidance of God’s words described as those who “grope about like blind people” Brother Joe, how are God’s words described in the Bible?

Brother Joe: Well, we could read the answer, Brother Richie, here in the Bible in Psalm 119:105, and this is what is recorded here: 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

[Psalm 119:105 New International Version]

Brother Joe: And so, God’s word is described as “a lamp” or “a light” for our path. This is why those that have heard, were taught, and learned God’s words are enlightened. Now, there are people who are truly awake and aware of the real situation of life and how to properly handle themselves. 

Brother Richie: Now, this is the reason we here inside the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo) bring you this message and encourage you to learn more of God’s teachings and His ways written in the Bible.

Brother Joe: On behalf of all of us here at The Message, we would like to thank you for joining us today in our study of God’s message. 

We hope that you will continue to watch this and the other programs of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ. Before we go, though, please join us for a short prayer.

Dear God, most merciful and loving Father in Heaven, 

We thank You from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to be able to receive this very important message of Yours. 

We know, Dear God, that You are great and compassionate, You see our condition here in this life, and although there are many that are experiencing injustice and great suffering in this world, You provide a way for each and every one of us to receive the blessing that comes from You. Help us that we will always put our complete trust and hope in what You can do for us, may we remember that You are a God of truth and justice, so that we will never feel discouraged as we journey in this life, but rather we will continue to put our full confidence in what You can do for each and every one of us. 

Help us to be awake to Your righteousness, to follow completely Your teachings and Your commandments recorded in the Holy Bible, that this will not only benefit us here in this life, but most importantly, it will lead us to the salvation that we are hoping for. 

Jesus Christ, our Lord, we call upon You. May You bring our humble supplications to our Father. Remember all of those who have received this message today that if it is not against the will of our God, they too will be counted as members inside Your Holy Church to receive the precious and blessed salvation on the great day of Your return. 

Father in Heaven maintain always our firm connection to the Church Administration, bless at all times our Executive Minister for the sake of Your chosen ones. 

We humbly believe that You have heard our prayers, that you’ll forgive us for all of our many sins, for we ask all of these things, Dear Father, in the name of Your Son, our Lord, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Woke vs. Awake