We began the New Year at SCC by beginning to study The Gospel of Mark as a church. We are reading it together, preaching through it on Sunday, and also reading Tim Keller’s “The King’s Cross” together. The idea behind this focus is that reading and obeying the Bible holds the key to a successful Christian life.
One point of this past Sunday’s sermon related to the role of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus to come as Messiah. The way he prepared for Jesus was by preaching a message of repentance. Repentance is the practice of turning from a habit, sin, or way of conducting your life to God’s way of conducting your life. John called Israel to prepare for the Messiah by repenting. In our day, repenting has a pretty negative connotation to it. It calls to mind crazy people yelling about fire and brimstone. It’s possible that John wasn’t far from this since he dressed in camel hair and ate bugs. But, however he looked, people came out in droves to listen to his message and follow it by repenting which was physically depicted in their baptisms.
God was preparing his people for something great and the way he prepared them was by calling them to repentance.
In 2 Chronicles 7 the construction of God’s temple is finally finished. God presence was going to be with his people. He tells them, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” God calls his people to repentance. More important than their success or blessing is that they maintain a proper relationship with God.
Romans 2:4 tells us that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. It is a good thing, contrary to popular belief and contrary to our natural inclinations. Repentance is the precursor for God moving in our lives. If you are asking for knowledge of God’s will, discernment in a decision, healing, help, or blessing, God’s plan always has repentance at the beginning.
God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. It’s a funny thing though, because nothing brings peace and contentment like that moment after you have sought forgiveness of a sin. Jesus made the way for us to be forgiven, repentance practices that way in our daily life. Don’t resist it, God uses it to bring his good plan to pass in our lives.