It’s Time For R & R!
“Repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”–Matthew 3:2 (AMP)
Most of us think of the term “R & R” to mean “rest and relaxation”. In a society that wears busyness as a badge downtime is something craved and most assuredly needed but is sadly in very short supply. What I don’t think we are aware of is there is another form of “R & R” equally craved, equally needed yet in even shorter supply.
Repentance and revival.
I’m pretty sure when we think of repentance and revival we aren’t thinking of them in side by side terms but I can assure you they go together every bit as much as peanut butter and jelly. Growing up in the church I heard both terms almost interchangeably though as a young kid fumbling my way into adolescence and adulthood I had yet to grasp the meaning behind them. Whenever someone would mention revival an image of folding chairs set up among huge tents, piano music and gospel choirs would instantly spring into my head. People clapping, singing, some even doing something that may or may not have resembled joyful dancing. Repentance brought about the complete opposite images. Dark, somber, face down in the dirt, unable to look anyone human much less the Almighty in the eye sorrow over wrong doings and trespasses. I would be well into adulthood before I would finally take hold of both.
James MacDonald puts it this way–“Revival is a renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline. Revival is God in my life, experienced and enjoyed. Repentance is the funnel through which all revival flows.” Sadly we don’t hear as much about revival in church as a whole anymore and we hear even less about repentance. When I was high school there was a popular book on the scene entitled “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” This is true to a point. Unfortunately this adage has segued to an attitude of comfortable complacency. In the popular movie “God’s Not Dead” there was a scene in which an arrogantly wealthy businessman went to visit his dementia stricken mother in a nursing home. He was pointing out the comparisons between his life and hers, how she had believed and prayed all her life, was the nicest woman he knew, a woman who never harmed anyone and yet she was battling dementia while he enjoyed perfect health and an overall perfect life. He asked her to explain. Her answer was revealing. “Sometimes the devil allows us to live a life free from trouble. Our sin is like a jail cell with padding on the walls. It’s so comfortable there’s no reason to leave. Until one day the door slams shut and it’s too late.”
Interestingly enough every Old Testament prophet carried the message of repentance. John the Baptizer preached repentance (Matthew 3:2). Jesus shared with His disciples the message of repentance (Mark 6:12). Luke 15:7 tells us there is more joy in Heaven when one sinner comes to repentance than over 99 who are seemingly righteous. Fast forward to Acts 3:19 where the Apostle Peter preaches, “So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day]…” Skip over to Acts 17:30 where Paul is admonishing the church in Thessalonica; “Therefore God overlooked and disregarded the former ages of ignorance; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent [that is, to change their old way of thinking, to regret their past sins, and to seek God’s purpose for their lives].”
Repentance is key. It is central throughout the Old Testament and every bit as much throughout the New.
Repentance, godly repentance, is a beautiful thing.
Godly repentance leads us to a godly grief over sin. Unlike worldly sin where we are more sorry that we were caught than for the deed or deeds committed a true, godly grief leads to feelings of shame. Why shame? In the sense we erred on the side of wrong rather than standing with God. Godly grief in repentance leads to a sense of repulsion. That thing we once desired and craved so badly now makes us sick at the thought of it. This sense of repulsion is usually coupled with a heightened sense of urgency, an eagerness and a willingness to get things straight with God. We want to fix the outcome of our sin. Whether that means reconciling with the person or persons affected by our actions or taking deliberate steps to change old habits we are driven to want to make it right. We feel that burning, that desire, that passion for God and the things of Him again. Our joy returns. We want to know more of Him. We move forward through His grace.
Worldly grief places the emphasis on us, our wrong doings, and what we did, didn’t do and what we should or shouldn’t have done. Godly grief brings cleansing. When we experience true, godly repentance and everything that goes with it, we are never taken to any place bad; only good.
Now I ask you….
What are the areas of your life where you are in need of R & R?
Take a moment now to read Luke 19:1-10, Genesis 18, and Job 42. As you read record and reflect on what God brings to your heart and mind. Ask Him to show you any area of your life where true, godly repentance is needed. Ask Him to be your strength where you may be weakest. Allow Him to guide you into a new way of living and being.