December 11, 2016 – Repent
“Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
– Matthew 3:1-2
Repent. It isn’t a word we hear every day. In fact, unless you attend church or read the Bible, you probably never hear it. Such a simple word and yet, a word with real power. Repentance has been described as a ‘turning around.’ Doing a 180. But what are we turning away from? And what are we turning toward? I believe that, oddly enough, the book of Revelation makes this clear.
The Book of Revelation is a tale of two cities: the City of God – the New Jerusalem – and the City of Sin – Babylon. Babylon is described as an empire built on immorality, corruption, and destruction. It’s the spiritual reality behind every act of sin. It’s the nation we give our allegiance to from the moment we begin making decisions. It’s a Kingdom founded on idolatry.
On the other hand, the New Jerusalem is described as a holy city where the people of God live in peace, joy, and love. It’s the city God is calling all of creation to enter into. It’s a Kingdom that was founded when Jesus came on the scene and picked up John the Baptist’s, message: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand! It’s a Kingdom founded on worship of God.
When John and Jesus call people to repent, they’re calling them to turn away from their allegiance to the Kingdom of Darkness and pledge full allegiance to the Kingdom of God. And since they’re changing citizenships, they’re changing everything that citizenship entails as well. Repenting involves learning a new language – the language of love – and a new culture – the culture of the Spirit. Repenting involves putting away all of the old ways of doing things – seeking revenge, tearing others down, fighting to be number one. And it involves taking on the way of the cross – loving our enemies, building others up, and seeking to live a life of humble service.
Advent reminds us that we are part of that different Kingdom. It’s a Kingdom that’s coming. And though it’s already made inroads in this world, so much more needs to be done.
In other words, John’s message isn’t finished.
Christians need to hear this call – repent – every day as we continue to put off the ways of the Kingdom of Darkness and grow in the ways of the Kingdom of God.
And as we grow, we should continue speaking this message to those who are far from the Kingdom – repent!
For God will not be satisfied until every knee bows and every tongue confesses Christ as Lord.
For the Kingdom of God is here.
And come in.