The Question of Repentance
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 9 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What then should we do?” s the crowds were asking him.
11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts t must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He told them, “Don’t collect any more than what you have been authorized.”
14 Some soldiers also questioned him: “What should we do?”
He said to them, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation; be satisfied with your wages.” Luke 3:7-14 HCSB
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Acts 2:36-37 (NLT)
A lot of things recently have brought about discussions about repentance, what it is, how it is gone about, what kinds of things are involved, and most importantly, who is active, I’ve written about those things before, especially how repentance, like faith is something the Holy Spirit gives us. ALso how repentance is a transformation far more than it is feeling grief or a decision to follow God!
But as repentance is seen, there is always a question that comes up, the question seen in my first reading above. (and in the second as well)
John the Baptist tells them to live a life that produces fruit consistent with repentance,
And hearts, just starting ot living in this transformation ask, “What should we do?” It’s the same question the Jewish people asked when they learned they crucified the Messiah, the one God sent to establish a time of rest and peace for them.
What should we do? You could add, “now?” to the end of the question.
The reason that this is THE question of repentance is that when repetnance comes to us, the only questions that remains is – what do we do…. because repentance is happening already!
Repentance, as we are granted it, as our lives are starting to transform, leaves us a bit, befuddled. lost, and confused. We are a new creation and this re-birth and renewal given as God cleanses us is about as confusing as a kid from Nebraska being dropped off in Hollywood on a Saturday night.
And so the people, crowds, tax collectors, soldiers, were given some basic ideas. Not all-encompassing ideas, bot a complete set of laws to follow. But examples. Examples that are consistent with a transformed heart, a heart that is capable of living for others, of loving and caring for them.
Think of John’s advice as the training wheels of the Christian life, the life of the repentant, the baptized. There is much more to living a life transformed, but these bits of advice from John gets the wheels spinning and our moving with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power.
Do things that don’t serve your self-interest, don’t be pre-occupied with proving your own righteousness. Do things that are loving. And when you find you aren’t…. pray, and confess and know that God is with you! He came to save you! He is your messiah, your Lord, your life.
The answer to the question of repentance, of what we do is always going to be the same – in Christ, love those you encounter.
Lord have mercy on us, give us the strength and desire to see you transforming the lives we live! AMEN!