REPENTANCE....in Light of Christmas?
I want to share a word of encouragement and challenge as we move toward
s a new year. 2020 has been quite the year! It wasn't at all what we expected, was it? By virtue of the concept of 20/20, this should have been the year of clarity and vision. Was it for you? I know it has been for me and my family. Things are clearer than ever before.
The word I want to share is "repentance."
WAIT!!! DON'T LEAVE THE ROOM!!!!!
Repentance may not be what you think. The correct definition is "to turn
away from." By that definition, repentance would also include "a turning towards." We generally associate repentance with the issue of sin, and rightfully so. Sin is deadly and must be eradicated from our life! Wait....Jesus did that! For those who have aligned themselves with Christ and have been Biblically born again, this is an incredible, tangible, experiential reality.
The repentance I am speaking of is turning away from things that bring us harm: cause us to stay stuck; add to confusion and despair; and keep us from experiencing the fullness of the kingdom of God.
At Christmas we are reminded that Emmanuel, God with us, has come to dwell amongst His people. When we repent, we turn to look at HIm. He is there. He is Someone to
experience. To many, Christmas is Emmanuel in a manger scene or a song, and the rest of the year He is absent. Emmanuel means so much more than Someone to look at or sing about. He is Someone to experience.
Let me explain.
In order to experience Him the way He has chosen to be experienced, we must repent (turn away from):
Ideas, thoughts or philosophies that are contrary to the word of the Lord. "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. - 2 Corinthians 5:5-6
Thoughts and ideas tend to show up in our lives and cause us to look away from Father. Repenting from vain thoughts and ideas cause us to look at Him. He is what we repent towards. And, looking into His face brings clarity and hope, even in the midst of chaos. We can read His lips, so-to-speak, when things are too loud around us. Wha
t I mean is that we can know Him. He gives us the peace we need to focus on what He is saying. To know His thoughts towards us. To know His ways concerning us. It's all in His face.
2. Loneliness. What? Repent from loneliness? Well, yes. I understand that during this quarantine and lockdown state, loneliness has skyrocketed. We were never meant to be alone. This situation is not conducive for experiencing the strength of fellowship and family. In fact, it is highly dangerous. The enemy wants to keep us isolated. This causes us to go inward. The truth of the matter is that we are not alone. Jesus never leaves us. Turn away from those thoughts and you will see HIm right there to comfort. To be the brother and the friend you and I need. This may seem fairytale and over-simplistic, but I must speak reality and truth.
And then there are those of us who can be in a crowded room and still be the most lonely person there. Once again, that mental isolation has lied to us and caused us to believe a thought contrary to Father's intention towards us. He intends to give us a place to belong. If He puts widows and orphans into families, why would He want you or me to be left out? He simply wouldn't. Repent. Turn around. Look. He is there. Regardless of the cacophony of voices telling us otherwise. Emmanuel is with us.
3. Judgement: Oh boy is this a big one. Have you ever judged yourself so cruelly only to find your life governed by guilt and shame? And, the next step is to project that judgement on others? What a vicious cycle. This is where it is dangerous to look in the mirror. All you will see is your failures of the past, present, and actually the future. You are left without hope. "How could God keep putting up with me?" or "Can you believe God would love someone like that person (fill in the blank)?" Repent of judgment. No has been authorized to judge the soul except the Son. That's it. End of story. But, before the religious "gatekeepers" come unglued, let me explain that I am not talking about the abuse of His grace and kindness. No sir!
Let's be clear, grace abounds in the kingdom..."grace upon grace." That's His idea, not mine. But if we would turn away from judgement of every kind and look onto His face, we will experience grace and mercy in our time of need. It's that simple..
..it's that profound.
I could go on and include many more targets of repentance, but I have no interest in listening to myself talk. You get the point here. I, too, need reminded that Emmanuel is here. God is with us. He is close. He is ever present and willing to meet with us....talk with us....dream with us....labor with us....contend with us for bigger things. REPENTANCE is the key. Turn away from things, people, memories, current circumstances, etc. and look full in His face.
In closing, let me quote a beautiful hymn/chorus we used to sing when I was younger. It should be sung as an anthem for Christmas because Emmanuel has and has ransomed us!
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!