Thursday, January 26, 2012

Walking in Repentance

When I was in college my roommates and I developed the not-so-great habit of "your-fault/my bad". If there was a misunderstanding between us or if I'd done something that seriously annoyed you, I was quick to insert a "your fault" and then proceed to the next topic (followed by your uncomfortable laughter). In a similar manner, if something was undeniably my/my roommates fault (e.g. the time I locked us all out of the house again, my roommate put a hole in the dorm room wall, my roommate put a hole in the apartment wall, my roommate put a hole in... you get the picture) we would quickly insert a "my bad" as if that resolved the issue. Once the words were spoken, I was no longer responsible.  The only thing less sincere is the "thank you's" that follow the unwrapping of Christmas Sweaters (you know the one with the giant reindeer...? Because everyone wants a sweater with giant reindeer...).

As I've grown in Christ I've noticed that sin always prevents me from embracing the mission of God. But recently, I've felt extremely burdened not only by my sins but also the sins of my family, my friends, my community, and my nation.

As followers of Christ we've been called to live Lives of Repentance. The word for repentance literally means to turn in the other direction. We turn from the things we've worshipped and we turn back to God. What do we repent for? We repent for the sins of omission (allowing things to happen) and commission (doing wrong things). If a family member or friend is living in sin and I say nothing, what am I communicating? Christians have both the privilege and responsibility of representing the Christ on earth. And people are who they worship.  If I turn a blind eye to sin in my life or in the lives of others, I'm really saying that "the God I worship doesn't care about sin" and nothing could be further from the truth.

Now I'm not advocating an angry and aggressive condemnation. If it doesn't look like Christ, don't do it. But then again, don't forget that Christ lovingly called people out on their sin so that they would repent and turn to God. What sins are keeping you from embracing God's mission? Perhaps it might be as simple as the idolization of your mission over His. Perhaps you fear man more than God or are just generally apathetic to the existence of sin. Maybe you've grown attached to comforts and have become numb to the starving, desperate souls around you. Whatever it is, the Bible urges us to deal with our sin (kill it) or reap the consequences (Romans 8:13/Hebrews 12:6).

The confession and repentance of sin(s) should be a consistent rhythm throughout our lives. It should be something that we walk in. And it's not just confessing sin to God, but the bible also tells us to "confess our sins to one another" (James 5:16). We have to expose the darkness in our lives. We have to address the idols of our community. And we do this all for the glory of our king. The gospel changes lives and by the grace of God we can have new lives and experience the freedom of exposing sin to light.

Lastly, heartfelt repentance stems from seeing and knowing the glory of Christ. When Isaiah saw God's glory he fell on his knees and cried out "woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and I live amongst a people of unclean lips." He was burdened not just by his sins but also the sins of his people. And in this repentance, God picked him up, dusted him off, cleaned him up, and sent him out on mission (Isaiah 6:1-13). Mission is always rooted in a lifestyle of repentance.

Here's a quick video on the difference between remorse and repentance by Mark Driscoll.

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