True Repentance: A Way of Life
As we reflect on the condition of the world in which we live, it is clear that true spiritual values are as rare as they have ever been. Moral degeneration and confusion, environmental destruction, along with a general failure of education and an ever-growing craze for pleasure, mark a society that places little, if any, value on what Jesus Christ taught. Surely the need for change, for repentance, has never been greater.
As it has been for every generation, repentance is really the central issue facing mankind today. But it is not an issue often talked about. Sin, after all, is deeply personal. We are, to say the least, reluctant to think about our own weaknesses and failing.
Repentance requires the ultimate humility. It demands not only acknowledgement and confession of sin, but true repentance is also a way of life, a way of thinking about ourselves and our relationships with God and with fellow men and women. Repentance is full recognition of our personal inadequacy, weakness and inferiority to God, of our need for Him. It is also recognition that we are no better than any other human being. Yet, ironically, this realistic views of our own weakness is the starting point for much greater strength. It is the mental foundation that will enable us to make a far more valuable contribution to every aspect of life.
The words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 should ring out daily in the conscience of every true Christian: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of us should look not only on our own interests, but also on the interests of others”.
“Repent and believe” Jesus commanded in Mark 1:15. Some would prefer to believe without the repentance. But true belief demands repentance, for how can a person believe God’s word and not change his life? Real understanding brings about a fundamental shift in our attitudes. The truth is, though, that it is only when we come to face our own sin squarely, seeing ourselves for what we are, that we are able to come to Christ. We need to address some very basic issues. Which is more important to our society: serving God or serving ourselves? That is an important question. But the deeper question is this: which of these is more important to you and to me? Discovering how we must change is the most important task we as individuals can take.
Let us ask ourselves how much we are willing to sacrifice to our calling to follow Christ? Is sin just something for the other fellow to deal with? Is it just something for the churches to solve? Or does it reach into our lives, something for you and me to deal with personally?
To be sure, repentance is not an easy way nor a popular way. You might even say that it is a narrow and difficult path. Not because of rigorous, legalistic standards, but because it is hard for a man to humble himself. Becoming a true follower of Christ cannot happen by wishful thinking. Nor can it happen by political force, nor by religious persuasion. It happens only by doing what Jesus said.
Bro David Yelulani (Banket, Zimbabwe)