Repentance: The Buzzkill of the Modern Prosperity Minded Christian
By: Sylvia Reynolds-Blakely
Unrepentance is a stronghold that the modern comfortable Christian with position, power, and prestige hides in. (Spoiler Alert: This is going to be a really tough word for some readers, but hang in there!) It's a posture of self-absorption and ‘rightness’ that in itself becomes a stiff-necked idol.
"What do I have to repent for?" i.e., “What do I need God for?” we ask. If we can justify any behavior and use the Bible to do so, then all the better! As long as we are in a position to point the finger of privilege at someone else, then we get to be right, thereby justifying our behavior. This is not the ‘high-minded judgmental church lady’ talking. This is the prophet Jeremiah talking to Israel in chapter 2 verses 34-35 (NLT):
Your clothing is stained with the blood of the innocent and the poor, though you didn’t catch them breaking into your houses! And yet you say, "I have done nothing wrong. Surely God isn’t angry with me!" But now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned.
We all know we have sinned and fallen short, so why can’t we just admit it? Jeremiah explains in chapter 8, verses 5-6 (NLT):
Then why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling tightly to their lies and will not turn around. I listen to their conversations and don’t hear a word of truth. Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, “What a terrible thing I have done?” No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping into battle!
In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges calls out the inconvenient truth that certain sins are simply overlooked or justified by modern Christians. Bonafide sins such as unrighteous anger, sarcasm, backbiting, and dishonesty are all put in the category of "sin lite;" nothing to see here! No need to repent from my feelings or my behaviors! The problem lies with the HEART that refuses to turn from sin to righteousness or right living. The mercy we could receive from God if we amended our ways gets tossed aside like yesterday's news. Jeremiah states in chapter 26:13 (NIV):
Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you.
Knowingly going against God's leadership plan for our lives is sin. Every Christian should know this, but I'll say it for those in the back row: Going against God's leadership plan leads to damnation in the now. That's the exact opposite of experiencing God's Kingdom here on earth, which is what He desires for each of us.
In the time of Jesus’ earthly walk, the Pharisees who followed behind Him were utterly lost and blinded by their justified sins. Over and over again, even when faced with God's righteousness in the form of Jesus, the promised Messiah, their pride, position, and stiff-necked posture left them squarely out of partaking in any Kingdom experience. Because their eyes were fixed on "a position" and not "the promise," they TOTALLY missed out on the gift that was Jesus the Christ speaking plainly to them, healing in front of them, and offering salvation all around them. They were men in the desert with dry mouths slapping away the Living Water. The two Pharisees who clearly heard Christ's message had to accept Him in SECRET for fear of being out of step with the mainstream.
Dear brothers and sisters, the status quo won't save you. The path and the gate are narrow. Willingly take up the task of repentance as part of your cross bearing duties and do it out of love for righteousness and the sovereignty of God. If not, you truly will not see what He's given you to do as you stare blindly through the lens of an unrepentant heart.
Unless we repent daily, our earthly Kingdom experience will. not. happen. The goodness of God has little room to operate in an atmosphere of unrepentant sin. Without daily repentance, our 'dash,' that mark between our birth and death seen on every obituary, will be an unnecessary living hell. Grabbing ahold of His unfailing compassion every morning (Lamentations 3: 22-23) is His gift to us and should be treasured and cherished by every Christian. If we could repent under our own power we wouldn't need Christ.
It circles back to the question of Lordship and who we trust with the power to steer our course. Is it really God we trust in? By faith, Jesus is the only hope we have to help us build our bridge back to a righteous God.
James puts it so compassionately when he says in Chapter 5, verses 19-20 (NLT):
My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
May this tough word help a wandering nation repent and turn back to God’s truth.