Jesus began his ministry on earth with a call to repent. The recognition of our sin and turning away from it toward God is the beginning of our salvation by grace through faith. Confession is certainly important, but there are those who say you must “fully repent” in order to be saved. But how sorry is sorry enough?
I have seen this many times in the church and especially within my family. Someone will refuse to extend grace and forgiveness because another has not properly demonstrated repentance. They separate themselves from each other in order to protect their self image. They don’t want to be known as someone who tolerates sin.
I am not saying that God tolerates sin; but Jesus never separated himself from sinners for fear of what others might say. He never made sure that people knew he did not approve of their sin. He extended grace and love again and again before the sinner could even utter a word of repentance. The father ran to his son with arms open while he was still a long way off.
I do not mean to take grace lightly. I also believe that whenever God reveals an area in our lives we have not surrendered to him, we need to let it go. But to think that I have to reach a certain level of repentance in order to receive grace is ridiculous. Can I ever fully identify with the sadness and pain that my sin inflicts on God? To enforce “full repentance” on others is to withhold the very grace God has given us. Even worse, it affects our view of God as we begin to think we need to earn his grace and forgiveness. Jesus has already paid the price for our lives. Let us not hold anyone back from receiving the gift he freely gives.
This is only a short summary of some of my thoughts on this issue. Whether you agree or disagree, I would love to continue this conversation with you.
Jesus wept. That verse is commonly (and often comically) known as the shortest verse in the Bible; but it is certainly not the least significant. This expression of grief that Jesus demonstrates happens as he approached the burial site of one of his friends. While others took that to mean that Jesus really loved his late friend, the sorrow he felt was far deeper than that. He was grieving at sin and the consequences it causes; namely, death.
In Jeremiah 8 and 9, God shows this same heart as he mourns over his unrepentant people and the punishment they would soon receive. They no longer felt any shame for their sin, and they preached peace where there was no peace. They abused the law, using it to justify their own corruption rather than recognizing their need for God. He is so personally grieved, that he wish he could separate himself from them because of the pain they have caused him. He is sad that his very own people do not know him.
The story is the same today. We have grieved God because of our sin. If we only felt the extent of the pain that we cause him, we would desperately cry out to him to save us from ourselves and heal us. God invites us to identify with him in this sorrow and make the first step towards repentance. May we grow in our knowledge of him so that we may see through his eyes and feel what he feels and respond according to his goodness and grace.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:23-27)
Father, thank you for making your words known to me. You have taught me so many things recently through long car rides, fellowship with others, work experiences, and my relationship with Angelica. You have revealed so much of yourself to me that I am overwhelmed. I need to write down what you are teaching me, because I tend to forget. As I reflect on your lessons, please write them on my heart, that I would not swerve to the right or the left. I want to remain vigilant and experience life to the fullest in you. Thank you for finding me, choosing me, and keeping me. I love you father! Goodnight!
If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:23)
Father, it has been yet another wonderful day basking in your presence and enjoying the sweet fellowship with other believers. Thank you so much for the opportunity to prepare for marriage with Angelica. Thank you for allowing Mark to join us for lunch today. Thank you for the wonderful conversations with Paul. Lord, please direct us as we pursue your will in our lives. Fill us with your Spirit that your words would be made known to us. May we never misrepresent you, but simply point others to you. Thank you for the joy of your salvation! I love you Lord! Goodnight!
Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! (Proverbs 30:4)
Father, you have established all the ends of the earth. Thank you so much for the opportunity to witness your marvelous creation today during our hike and caving adventure. Thank you for the fellowship and encouragement you provided through new friends who are members of your family. Thank you for the random people we could meet who took professional photos of us and will soon be visiting us at church. You are truly awesome! During the long drive home, you reminded me of the wonder of your love for me. You have chosen me, even when I did not choose you. You have given me life in exchange for death. I am so grateful for how you have revealed yourself to me today. Please speak to Paul and I tomorrow as we look for people to invite for lunch. If anyone is in need of prayer, help, encouragement, or companionship, please give us eyes to see their need, ears to hear their story, and discerning hearts to share your love and goodness. I love you Father! Goodnight!
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. (John 18:1-3)
Father, you have met me in so many places in my life, and yet when I return to those places, I so often betray you. I so foolishly fight your will after witnessing your goodness and grace. Lord, I want to stop running from you. Thank you for always calling out to me. At this time, I call out to you so that you would show me marvelous things I would not know on my own. Please give me wisdom on how to spend the rest of my evening for you glory.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:6-11)
Thank you so much, Father, for beginning a good work and me and for the assurance that you will bring it to completion. In your grace, you have delivered me from my own sinful desires and redeemed my life. Please cause your love to abound in me more and more. May my mind be renewed by the knowledge of you, and give me wisdom to discern your ways. Give me a heart that longs for what is good that I might produce a fruit of righteousness. Please guide me today in my interactions with my coworkers, friends, family and anyone else you put in my path.
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:22-26)
Father, I long to be in perfect union with you. Thank you for giving me yourself and for making yourself known to me. I want to be where you are to behold your glory. Until then, please use me an an instrument of your will. Unite my heart that I would desire You. Instill in me a love for your commandments and purposes in this world. As you make yourself known to me, help me to make You known to others. I am still in desperate need of your redemption and restoration. Thank you for loving me and saving me from myself.
A few days ago, I asked God to show me what it means to bring glory to Him. Though I had a vague understanding of what that looks like, I wanted to know exactly what it means. The sermon at church yesterday was about being unified with God and how that is the central doctrine of the gospel. Since the glory of God is His magnificent and awesome being, to bring glory to Him is to be unified with him that His being may be in us! Consequently, we become representatives of God not merely through emulation, but through perfect identification! As Dallas Willard explains, we must pursue communication, communion, and ultimately union with God. The tragic result of this union is that when we sin, we implicate Christ in our sin. Thanks be to God that we are being transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit of God!
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Psalm 86:11-12)
Father, your love for me is steadfast and never changing. You have saved me from my sin, and you are renewing my mind with the knowledge of you. god I want to know your way and I want to walk in your truth. My heart is so divided. I want to be made whole. To be made whole is to be joined with you. Only then can I see through your eyes and love you through perfect obedience. Please continue to teach me and cause me to glorify your name. I am still learning what that means, but I trust that you will cause your truth to come alive in my life. Thank you for inviting me to spend time with you once again. May your name be praised!