Repentance. Bahahaha. Yep. I’ve heard that call before.
John the Baptist’s Sermon
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8.
Jesus’s First Recorded Sermon
“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Matt 4:17. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matt 9:13. “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Luke 3:3. “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:7. “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance” Rom 2:14. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. “ 2 Peter 3:9.
The definition of repentance is “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done”.
We are a stubborn generation (or as my mother called me “strong willed”) and only God can change a person’s mind (actually their heart). How? His amazing LOVE.
Very often I hear politically correct sermons and politically correct pastors. Ya know, the weekly salvation message that makes you feel good and happy and want to come back and maybe even arrive early to the coffee bar or maybe go out for ice cream. Trust me, if you know me, you know I LOVE this side of church family. And I can’t wait to meet you at Starbucks or Coldstone or the snow cone stand. And it’s truth: No one is perfect. Everyone misses the mark. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t Judge others (only “evalute” their fruit and their character because bad company corrupts good character…ha). We all have sinned. Yes yes yes all true true true.
But, there is another part of the message too. Repentance and the NEED to repent. Yes, this part may be a little uncomfortable but it IS the gospel and we have ALL sinned and we ALL need to repent. Some, like me, sometimes daily (Lord forgive me for that wrong thought about that guy who cut me off in the parking lot).
But, where is the message that John the Baptist and Jesus himself preached to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”? We are not the Judge but there IS a Judge. We will give an account. The Kingdom of God IS NEAR. We must repent. Hate is murder and looking at another with lust is adultery (thanks Fireproof for that line). The standard is, in fact, very high. Like I proudly heard a seminary professor & pastor preach Sunday 8/05/12, without Christ, you ARE an enemy of God.
God does love everyone! But, do you love God back? “If you love me, obey my commandments”. John 14:15. “Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” John 14:24. “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice…” 1 Sam 15:22. “Your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.” James 4:11.
Do we always obey? No. Is there something you need to repent for? When we repent and pray for forgiveness of our sin, He is quick to forgive us. How? Jesus.
But if you don’t think you need to repent, you are deceived because God’s commandments apply to us ALL (whether you like that or not). What’s the greatest commandment? “Jesus said, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39.
So, let’s look at love. What does love look like? Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corin 13:4-7. Who can love like that? God! “For God IS love.” 1 John 4:8. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” 1 John 4:9.
But guess what else? Love has another side. “Don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child…. If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all”. Hebrews 12:5-8.
Yes, we should treat everyone with love and kindness and with respect (technically even child molesters and murderers and our enemies – OUCH). But think of the people that you love the very most. Like your children. Do you hug them and tell them everyone messes up after they commit some terrible act of disobedience? Yes you do that. But do you stop there? Or is there another side of love shown toward your child such as: do you discipline them, correct them, teach them, talk to them for lengthy periods of time about how their actions and choices can destroy them? (Basically, how their agreement with sin can destroy them). Do you encourage them to confess and repent? THAT is love in action.
Making sure your children are always happy, comfortable and without correction or making excuses for completely unacceptable behavior (simply because you yourself have made mistakes too) is NOT love. The “you did it when you were growing up” doesn’t work or excuse our children’s sin anymore than it did ours. And I believe the same concept applies with our friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and atheists.
Political correctness is NOT love. Telling people ONLY what they want to hear is not love. We cannot properly love others (like our children) by leaving out (omitting) the rest of the message even though it may not be exactly comfortable to hear. i.e. repent of your sins for the kingdom of heaven is near. I was a victim of politically correct brethren for several years after becoming a Christian. But in the end, I ended up respecting an older woman who spoke truth in my life versus telling me that my sins were okay. She taught me the repenance message. She gently guided me out of the disastrous path I was walking on even though I was saved from the wrath of God.
A bible study I was doing recently had a section designed to looking up scriptures about “false teachers” and it referenced Jude 1:4. I ended up reading the entire book of Jude (a whopping whole single page) and sat in amazement about how it so lined up with the passion in my heart about this topic (and The Great Omission blog too actually). “… some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives… there will be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones creating divisions among you… you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”
Accepting sin because it is socially acceptable in America is NOT love. Accept the sinner yes. But without approving of the sin. If you are only showing kindness and tolerance, but fail to share the whole message of love (the great omission), are you not teaching that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives?
Just food for thought that’s been shuffling around in my brain this week.
Social media hugs!