The 26th chapter of the gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." ...Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
I have a strong feeling that Jesus was talking here about more than just physical sleep. Many times in scripture, sleep is used as a metaphor for mental, emotional or spiritual "lack of awareness." Jesus' directive to "stay awake with Me" was more than a command to not physically fall asleep. It was a call to consciousness. He was asking, imploring even, His disciples to be conscious, be perceptive and be objective.
We can apply this message to our own lives in three specific areas:
1) Stay awake to what is AROUND you. Yes, it is important for us to assemble together to worship, pray, preach and teach, but before we come in and after we leave, we should stay awake to what is happening outside the four walls of the church. For example, there are many problems in society that we face on a daily basis. Staying awake means to be conscious, perceptive and objective of the whole picture. Don't just notice the symptoms. Be perceptive enough to sense the root cause of the problem and conscious enough act in a manner that will bring, or at least help to bring a solution, rather than just identifying the problem.
2) Stay awake to what is IN you. Know thyself. Do not be like the Pharisee who prayed, "God I thank You that I am not a sinner like this man here." Stay awake to your prejudices, your biases, your opinion, your cultural conditioning. Never let religion put you to sleep so that you are blind to your own issues.
3) Stay awake to OTHERS. The parable of the sheep and the goats (also in Matthew's gospel, chapter 25) reminds us that what we have or haven't done "to the least of these our brethren" we also have or haven't done to Christ. For those who did not help their brothers Jesus says, "You are going to be cast into a very similar predicament as those you have neglected - you'll be so sorrowful that there will be weeping, so much in pain that there will be wailing, so separated and alone that there will be darkness, and so cold and left out that there will be gnashing of teeth. I am going to allow you to experience what it feels like to be in need and there be no one willing to help you." [paraphrased] In order to be in the "Christ Consciousness" we must do what Christ did - He grabbed sinful humanity in one hand and His Father's divinity in the other and allowed God to feel everything that we feel and vice versa.