Sin. Judgement. Repentance. Those are Biblical themes I generally want to avoid. My husband and I recently drove through the deep South where it wasn’t unusual to see signs saying, “Repent! The End is near” or “Jesus Saves!” My tendency is to be a bit smug and think of those signs as being unsophisticated, but the fact of the matter is that both signs are biblical.
Noah lived in a world so corrupt and sinful that it was as good as living with the walking dead. God was so grieved by what He saw that he preserved Noah and his family and sent the Flood to cleanse the broken world. The question that I ask myself is if I really believe that my sin is as odious as the sins of Noah’s neighbors. Do I try to rely on my “goodness” and see myself as better?
I can see myself with the band of Pharisees and Sadducees who traveled out to the desert to see the rustic John the Baptist. They probably considered him a half mad curiosity. John immediately saw them for who they were, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance…”
What John said to them, to me, is a warning and a gift; don’t consider my sin as inconsequential and nothing short of horrific. Enjoy the cleansing baptism of sincere repentance and forgiveness. Just as the priests cleansed themselves before serving in the Temple and awaited God’s presence in that physical space, my repentance prepares the way for Jesus to cleanse me from my sins. The difference is that now, the Holy Spirit comes and lives in me, not in some building. May I never forget who now lives, moves and breathes within me and at what cost. These aren’t just empty words that are supposed to make me feel better; they are reality.
Lord, I want to live in the truth. I ask that you keep this heart of mine from being arrogant. May I understand the ugliness of my sin and turn from it so that I humbly and gratefully receive the wonder of your grace and presence. Thank you for never leaving. Amen.
One response to “Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3”
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis uses a character from hell to speak the words we all want to say, “I’m a decent fellow; I should get my rights.” That is, we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or harm our neighbors, and we work hard for what we have, so we deserve to be blessed. I have even had others commend me as a reason God blesses me. Yet, as Jesus said, not one of us is worthy of God’s grace and mercy. He just gifts us because of who He is, not what we have done. That bumps us back to reality in a heartbeat.