So, as the dust settles in the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the political rhetoric and blame gaming starts in earnest. In all the noise, the one voice you will rarely hear is the voice calling for national repentance. This morning I am meditating on Revelation 2:18-29, and I notice how the Lord of the Church makes such a strong call for repentance. Today that voice would be silenced in the din of blame-casting.
Why would repentance from sin be marginalized as a message of the Church in this day? Most especially in the light of the interesting two sided coin presented to us in 2 Timothy 2:19? Personal repentance was a significant turing point in the lives of many of the faithful in the Old and New Testaments. Josiah is a good example of personal repentance that turned the course of a nation (2 Kings 22:19). Josiah's repentance led to him being a leader in calling his nation to repentance (2 Kings 23: 1-7). Notice that the repentance started with Josiah, as political and spiritual leader of the people--and, after that included the nation. The result? Judah was spared, for a time, the destruction that came from the Babylonians.
Two good examples of personal repentance from the New Testament that come to mind are found in the Gospels. Luke 15:21 records the tearful repentance of the prodigal son upon his meeting his father. In the case of the prodigal son, there were two separate initiatives taken. One course of action by the father: He actively looked for his son. The other course of action is taken by the son: He turned his direction, with repentant heart, back to his father and family home. Without both actions the reuniting of father and son would not have taken place.
The other example of personal repentance in the New Testament that comes to my mind is found in Luke 18:13. Here Jesus relates the parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector--both of whom are going to the temple to worship. In the case of the Pharisee, his worship was centered--not on God--but, on his own hubris. The Tax Collector was humbled and repented. The results of both actions were drastically different. Hubris led to a continuation of sin, while repentance led to justification before God.
Today may I challenge you to listen carefully through the din of rhetoric to hear the voice of God calling us to repentance?