June 20, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. ...And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, ‘Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’ - Acts 20:7,9-10.
It can be dangerous to fall asleep in church, or even in a courtroom. Danielle Davidson found out about the hazards of sleeping in court when she dozed off after staying up late, several nights studying for college exams. The judge found her sleeping to be disturbing because the people in the courtroom were laughing at her and he sentenced her to spend two days in jail. I’ve done my share of sleeping in church (Never in court - usually too much tension.) and I think it is because it is such a peaceful place. But some preachers especially in generations gone by were intolerant of people sleeping while they were preaching.
At the church where I pastor (in 2002), a previous pastor had just started his sermon, and noticed some people were already asleep. He must have been a little upset because he stopped preaching and went home telling them if they were going to sleep, they could just sleep. One of those who was there, said that it was such a shock, that he woke up after the preacher said that.
Eutychus and Paul had the ultimate sleeping in church experience. Can you imagine falling asleep during a sermon, dying and coming back to life with the apostle Paul lying on top, hugging you? And depending on whether you went to Heaven or Hell while you were dead it could be even a greater shock! You have to think that Eutychus must have resolved to never, ever, to sleep in church again!
Of far greater consequence than falling asleep in church, or even in a courtroom, is that of falling asleep to the spiritual realities of life. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 8, "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. …But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” We should be constantly aware that there is a spiritual side to all of life.
Our Father is at work, and we should be constantly seeking, to see if we might somehow join Him in that work. There are those who are going out into eternity without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We should be standing in the gap through prayer, through witnessing, through giving, and through service holding back the lost from perishing. "…watch and be sober” be ready for action, be ready to "warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18).”
Have you been asleep? Wake up! There is much to do!