Throughout the past several decades, many biblical principles and symbols have been co-opted by non-Christian groups to brand their various causes. The latest biblical term to be copied is the term “woke.” Paul the apostle said more than two millennia ago, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11).”
Today, “woke” people are those who agree with the views of intersectionality, which combines radical feminism, socialism, specific views of systemic racism, and various sexual identity concepts and more. The purpose of this article is not to disparage any particular group or person who utilizes the term “woke,” but to show the biblical roots and meanings of the term.
The following are 7 traits of biblically woke people:
- A biblically “woke” person has been “born from above,” which enables them to “see” the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8). Jesus said, if a person has not yet had this supernatural experience (otherwise called a conversion experience or being “born again”), then it will be impossible for them to understand the reality of God’s reign; it’s a reign which governs both the visible and invisible realms.
- A biblically “woke” person views the world through God’s perspective instead of their own. Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore...when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:34- 35). What Jesus was referring to here was not merely the physical eye but the perspective of people. The eye is the gate of the soul that enables a person to observe the world and judge it. When the eye gate is dark (without divine illumination), a person’s whole body will be filled with darkness. Hence, a biblically woke person has the world view or life perspective based on God's reign and His word instead of the world's opinion and value system. This is why Paul states that all believers were once darkness, and now they are light in the world (Ephesians 5:8).
- Biblically “woke” people expose works of darkness. According to Ephesians 5:11-13, Christ-followers are called to speak out against the wickedness and bring it to the light. Hence, if you are genuinely biblically “woke,” you will not be captive to the “group think” of the world but will live contrary to it and expose its lies by speaking the truth in love. If all you do is echo what pop culture says and believes, chances are you are not fully “woke” from God’s perspective.
- Biblically “woke” people no longer pattern their lives after those living in darkness. Ephesians 4:17- 18 commands us to no longer live the way Gentiles (those outside of God's covenant) do. The reason is that non-believers have their intellect (reason or mind) darkened due to the blindness of their heart. Thus, unbelief and rebellion against God are not rational decisions because the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers lest the light of the gospel of Christ shines upon them (2 Cor. 4:4). Consequently, “woke” people not only speak the truth but embody the truth with their lifestyle as the Light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16).
- Biblically “woke” people no longer live for themselves, but for Christ. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that Jesus died for all so that those who live will no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Consequently, those who have their eyes opened are like merchants who found the pearl of great price and who went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46). Those who have indeed encountered Jesus are not enamored by anything else the world has to offer them. Consequently, true believers lose their lives for Christ’s sake instead of preserving their lives by gaining the world (Mark 8:34-38).
- Biblically “woke” people look for a heavenly city. They understand that all that the world offers is like a vapor, it is here today but gone tomorrow (James 4:14). They are like Abraham, who endured the challenges of the present world because he "saw" God's promises yet to be fulfilled and waited for the looming heavenly city (Hebrews 11:10-16). They are also like Moses, who endured threats by Pharaoh because he "saw" Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). Thus, if a person says they are a Christian, but surrenders their life fully to the pleasures of this world, then they need a personal "awakening!"
- Biblically “woke” people are not afraid of physical death. Paul the apostle said that the gospel abolished death and brought life and immortality to “light” (2 Tim. 1:10). Hence, those who walk with God should have no fear of death because those who live and believe in Jesus will never die (John 8:51, John 11:25-26). Paul was so immersed in the Messiah that he did not know if he wanted to continue living in this world or depart and be with Christ since it was far better (Philippians 1:23-24)! If a person is afraid to die then they may not be fully “woke” and need to make sure they are indeed fully “alive” unto God.
In closing, may there be a real global awakening based on the light of the knowledge of the glory of Jesus, who is the image of God. May the church be filled with Christologically “woke” people who will fill the earth with the light of the gospel!
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant, and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church, and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition