Sunday, January 31, 2010

Repentance: A Tradition of Words?

Too often, I have found that professing Christians, very much including myself, are filled with repentant words that are chained down by an unrepentant heart. The evidences of this are as follows: 1) Ill-concerned attitude towards sin and its' offense to a pure/holy/righteous/glorious---God. 2)Continuance in sin (typically excused with presumed notion that we are NOT "more than conquerors," and that we have no choice but to keep on sinnning) 3)An assumed (comfortable) idea of who we want God to be, almost as if we have made God in our own image.

First of all, what is repentance? Simply stated, it is a turning away from something, coupled with a turning toward something. In this case, we are referring to the turning from sin, and the turning towards Christ and His beautiful cross. If you were raised in church or are under the influence of Bible Belt christianity, you probably understand repentance as more of a TRADITION than a transformation of the heart. It has turned into one of those Sunday School answers that everyone would be quick to respond with, while typically having little meaning in the hearts of those who claim to be repentant.

In the church as a whole, (not nessecarily the local church), sin is almost meaningless. "No big deal," or "it's ok, i can just ask for forgiveness." I find that because of the cultural/christian influences that I have experienced, sin does not weigh enough in my own heart either. Sin is too often, not a big enough deal in my heart than it needs to be. My heart is my heart though, so it would be unfair to blame culture on my own unrepentant heart. I would caution Christians to be weary of repentance becoming merely A TRADITION OF WORDS. That's a scary place to be, seeing that the very BASIS OF OUR SALVATION is on repentance, unless easy-believism is your preference, which would indicate a heart that could very possibly be flattering their way to an eternity of punishment. 60-70 good years, at the expense of an eternity. Be weary.

I will give what I believe to be a good example of what true repentance looks like. Psalm 51. Read it. David was caught, and immediately fell to His face in anguish, BECAUSE HE KNEW GOD. Anguish? That can't be right; I'm supposed to be happy...FALSE!!! If we truly know God and His character, we understand the offense of sin against His holiness. It makes sense though; when you've grown up trusting in a God that freely hands out grace coupons, it's easy to begin to claim that as His character, which makes sin not a big deal.

I wish that I could interview a bunch of Christian people's hearts, instead of interviewing a bunch of Christians mouths. I think that if I asked their hearts questions about sin and repentance, I would find answers like these: 1)I believe I am a slave to sin. 2)I believe sin doesnt matter that much. 3)I am not repentant for my sins. ...But we don't have that option, so matters of the heart are left as our own responsibility, and flattery will continue to play its' course in sure destruction. I don't believe you can truly understand His unending love and grace until you understand the weight of sin.

So where do we go from here? Be willing to look at your heart, more than what you say. Beg for God to be gracious, and to transform your heart. Beg for God to blot out your transgressions. Beg for God to create a clean heart in you. Beg for God to renew a steadfast spirit in you. Beg for the Holy Spirit to intercede on your behalf, and to plead your cause for you (Psalm 119:154). And this one's tough---Beg for God to put you in anguish over your sin!!! Scary prayer, but true joy and true freedom are generally born in anguish. Think of the focus we can have on sharing Christ, when the sin in our own hearts is truly addressed.