Monday, December 7, 2015

A Change of Heart

Today's passages are Joel 2:12-13Mark 1:14-15Luke 15:11-32, and 1 John 1:5-10



"The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel."



Repent and believe? Say what, Jesus? Ouch. Can't I just believe? Isn't that enough? I searched Target high and low for sparkly ornaments that say "repent" and came up empty. They just ain't there. I found a lot of "believe" ones, though. The "believe" part is a lot more fun and marketable… and the word "repent" just isn't as sparkly and fun, is it? We just want to fast forward through "repent" like we do to commercials on our DVR. 



Here's the thing though… If we have nothing to repent for, then what do we believe Jesus is doing? Why would He come? You can't have one without the other.



I've always thought the story of the Prodigal Son should definitely be on Jesus' Greatest Hits album, if He ever had one. I always grew up thinking of the story as being about forgiveness… Forgiveness for a hopeless hot mess. I mean, who would want to forgive that guy? …the one who would rather have his father's fortune that his father's company. AND the only reason he came home is because he had no other option. Obvious lesson: we should forgive everyone no matter how dumb they're acting. But there are other subtle lessons in all the characters. The brother is bitter and resentful for doing the right thing the whole time. {Who hasn't related to this during a group school project? It's always the guy who never showed up to help who scoops up all the glory!} 



BUT the most overlooked point is this: it's a story of restoration and forgiveness, but it's a story of brokenness and repentance too. I picture the son's tear stained face as he came to clearly see and accept the pain and destruction he had caused. I picture him struggling to speak as he so humbly yet profoundly uttered "Father, I have sinned against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son."



He was so full of remorse that he assumed his father wouldn't take him back. He accepted the fact that he would never again be seated at his family's table, he would instead be picking up their dirty dishes. This wasn't just a man who was sorry, this was a man changed. He was prideful before he left, but he returned humble. He cared about money before he left, but he returned caring about people. He left lost, and returned found. Repentance isn't just about professing sorrow, it's a proverbial heart transplant. And there is where the power lies. It's the change in the son that makes this reconciliation so sweet. 



The same goes for you and me. Our reconciliation with God will always be so much deeper… so much more vivid… so much more alive… so much more joyful if we repent and believe. So let's set aside the time to repent, and then actually do it. We can be confident that our Father will warmly and jubilantly receive us. He will run to us before we can even get to Him to embrace us, and then He'll throw us an abundant celebration we don't deserve. I've never experienced deeper joy and intimacy with the gospel than when I'm repenting. My belief was not able to be contained in seasons of repentance. No one else is capable of bringing such a powerful story of hope and reconciliation… only Jesus.




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