“Woke” is the word of the day. If you spend anytime watching, reading, or surfing the news, you will have come across this word. In decades past, one would speak of being “woken up” from slumber. Today, that word has shifted from a somnial meaning into an ideological one. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary (itself fallen into wokeness) defines that word as American slang suggesting an awareness of and attention to key facts or issues. In most contexts, “woke” is often used in reference to some social or political issue. The Bible speaks less about being “woke” and more about being “washed.”
The woke ideology, when in the context of social issues, often speaks of oppression or the oppressed. This ideology claims that a certain subset of culture — those who are in power, have the wealth, and carry the influence — are awakened to their privilege by lifting up, listening, and submitting to the experience, opinions, and perspective of “the oppressed.” I put that latter group in quotation marks because it is the woke ideology who defines who “the oppressed” are. I can tell you they are not the millions of Christians who are imprisoned, exiled, and executed in third-world countries. The “oppressed” are the privileged minorities of America. I add “privileged” because there are thousands — if not millions — of people who would give up anything and everything just to set foot on this soil. And indeed, many have, but immigration is a topic for another week.
Wokeness focuses in on the oppression of one group over another. Now, to be fair, there is oppression. At times, both in history and today, some groups have used oppression to silence, subjugate, and shame other groups. For the woke crowd, however, that oppression is only one way. The Bible clearly views the sin of oppression as multilateral. Which is why no Christian can be “woke.”
One reason for this is because woke ideology presupposes inequality. Yet, the Bible is unambiguous, all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Woke ideology would argue only one group has sinned and that group is the hegemony. But the main reason wokeness is unbiblical is because the Bible tells us how we are “awakened.” Or, biblically speaking, regenerated.
The Christian doesn’t speak of woke but quick. In the Apostles’ Creed we confess Christ “shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” That word “quick” is an old English one used to describe something living. One of the many works of the Spirit is the quickening of believers. Today, we mainly speak of this as regeneration or being born again. Paul describes the type of worldviews, ideologies, and lifestyles that will not inherit the kingdom of God: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers…” (I Corinthians 6:9-10) He immediately turns on the Corinthian Christians by reminding them in verse eleven, “Such were some of you.” Paul’s list there isn’t comprehensive, so even though you might not find yourself on that list, I am sure you can find yourself in any one or several of the others (Rom. 1:26-32, Gal. 5:19-21, Col. 3:5-9, I Pet. 2:1, II Pet. 2:1-3, I Jn. 2:15-17).
In that same I Corinthians 6:11, the Apostle goes on to describe what the Christian is. I tell you, he is not “woke.” Rather, true believers are “washed…sanctified…justified.” All three of these are “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Notice, it is God the Son and the God Holy Spirit who bring about this threefold state in God the Father’s elect. Wokeness presupposes individuals have the power to change themselves. The Bible presupposes that every individual is dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) I ask you, Reader, can dead things resurrect themselves? Absolutely not!
Only when a person is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will that person be able to see and affect positive change in his/her social condition. Unless and until that happens, no amount of wokeness will change anything.