Summary: Repentance is first an inward change, which then results in an outward change, and we get there as God puts to death all that is broken and sinful and evil, and then leads us through that death into what is next.
A Journey of Repentance: Part 3 – Through Death
Rom 6:2-14 Feb 27, 2005
“Jock, the painter, often would thin his paint so it would go further. So when the Church decided to do some deferred maintenance, Jock was able to put in the low bid, and got the job. As always, he thinned his paint way down with turpentine.
One day while he was up on the scaffolding -- the job almost finished -- he heard a horrendous clap of thunder, and the sky opened.
The downpour washed the thinned paint off the church and knocked Jock off his scaffold and onto the lawn among the gravestones and puddles of thinned and worthless paint.
Jock knew this was a warning from the Almighty, so he got on his knees and cried: “Oh, God! Forgive me! What should I do?”
And from the thunder, a mighty voice: “REPAINT! REPAINT! AND THIN NO MORE!”
Today is the 3rd Sunday in the season called “Lent”, a season of preparation for the next and greatest season for Christians, Easter. We take these weeks before Easter to prepare to celebrate the most central part of our faith – the cross of Jesus and the empty tomb of Jesus. How do we prepare? We take this time to look deep into our hearts, and check which areas of our lives are out of step with God, and then let God forgive us and change us and give us the gift and ability to repent. It is the season where we hear, and heed, God’s call to repentance.
A few weeks ago I invited you to come along on this journey of repentance. I promised you it would not be easy, but that it would lead to life and to freedom. We provided a guidebook full of readings, and I have been sharing various reflections from my journey and from other’s journey through an email list. You can access both through our church website, www.lhbc.ca. Once we join the journey, the first step is of admitting our need for God – of surrendering our lives into His all-powerful and all-loving care. Of kneeling before our God, and making Him our Lord. In just a moment, I’m going to talk about the next step.
God’s Part and Our Part:
But first, there is a pretty critical part that applies to the whole of our spiritual lives that I’m not quite sure we have fully grasped, summed up in the question: “What is God’s job, and what is my job?” Through the fall, I preached on the fruits of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” With each, I emphasized that these were the things God produces in us. Through this journey of repentance I have said it again, only God can change us, only God can make the old new, only God can forgive us and fill us with new life.
So what are we supposed to do? What is our part?? Let me give you three pictures.
If my car breaks down, I can’t fix it. I can phone the mechanic, make the appointment, sit around in the waiting room, and pay the bill, but I can’t fix it. I really am helpless, as you would have noticed if you were in the Canadian Tire parking lot just after Christmas when it was -30 and I was trying to get a dead battery out of my car. But I can’t just keep driving around hectically, hoping that it will magically fix itself. I have to make the space in my life to get my car fixed.
Or think of it this way. Your spirit is a blank canvas, on which God wants to paint a beautiful picture. You can’t paint it, you can’t make it beautiful, only God can. But you have to stand still. God won’t paint if you turn your back on Him, and He can’t paint if you come running in for 30seconds and then run right back out again. We have to sit still with Him, and let Him paint.
1 more image. If your physical heart isn’t working properly, you need to see the doctor. You can’t do the surgery on yourself, but the doctor won’t operate until you give her permission. I don’t know of any doctor who will come to your house, tackle you, drag you into the operating room and force the anesthesia into you, even though they know it is what you need. You can’t do the operation, just like you can’t make yourself Christ-like, but you can and must give permission, and then go to the hospital at the right time and allow the doctor to perform the surgery.
Do you see? It is not our work, it is God’s work, but we must make the space for God to do the work. We must choose to spend time in His Word, in prayer, in worship, in service to God, and in the company of others who are striving after the same things.