Seven centuries before the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah brought a message of repentance to the people of God. In Isaiah 40 verse 3 he writes: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.” Faithful to his calling, John the Baptist also raised a cry of repentance. Jesus marked the start of his ministry in Matthew 4:17 with the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In each generation, the call for repentance has been repeated, and it has never been rescinded. And again in this season of Advent, God calls us to lives of repentance.
Most of us know the discomfort of repentance. Its call is confrontational and often distressing, for it requires us to look at our failures, and it requires change and amendment to our lives. But, true repentance involves more than just a change of behavior based on positive thinking. Rather, true repentance first requires a willingness to change at a heart level that will lead to a change in behavior. For a Christian, repentance is a close companion to contrition, the heart rending process that accompanies real change in the lives of those serious about, “seeking first the kingdom of God.”
Why did God make the call to repentance central to the messages of Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus? What is its place in our lives today? Why should we change our lives so that we can be as the verse above suggests, “. . . make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God.”
I believe the answer is very simple: God calls us to repentance because God loves us. Our sin hurts our relationship with God and alienates us from others. Our loving Heavenly Father calls us to change so that these relationships can be whole. God’s call to repentance is neither an accusation nor a judgment. God doesn’t love us less when we are asked to repent. God is actually asking us to consider entering into a deeper relationship with God. We shouldn’t be put off when God calls us to change. Instead, we should be reassured that God loves us even more.
Repentance is also a wonderful gift that can provide us with opportunities to show our love for God. Although we can’t do anything for God, we can choose to repent of anything in our lives that injures our relationship with God. Our repentance allows us to show our Father that we are choosing God’s way instead of our own. It is a way for us to live faithfully, expressing our love for the one who gave all for us. Our repentance can be evidence that we are “ making every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with God.” Our peace, after all, comes only from an unbroken relationship of love with our Lord.
May the peace of God that passes all understanding be with you all this Christmas and in the year to come. May you know the joy of being spotless and blameless in God’s sight through the wonderful gift of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from,
Buddy, Anne and the whole Ward Family
Prayer Meeting 9:15 AM
Sunday School 9:30 AM
Worship 11:00 AM
North Warren Presbyterian Church
200 South State St
North Warren, PA 16365-4645
Church Office Hours
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8:30 AM - 12:30 PM