Sunday, December 06, 2015

Practical repentance

Stick figure looking remorseful, repentant
Image from
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 3:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "And he (John) went into all the region around Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." - Luke 3:3

By the time Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke he had made the connection between Isaiah's prophecy (what he quotes in Luke 3:4-6 from Isaiah 40:3-5) to the coming of Jesus as Messiah and the role that John the Baptist played in preparing the people for Jesus.

Luke saw John as that "voice of one crying in the wilderness." The preparation that he preached was repentance (metanoia). As we saw a few days ago, repent means to feel remorse, change one's mind, and reform.

When John's convicted hearers responded to his message with "What shall we do then?" John gave practical examples. Repentance would be evident when they…
  • Turned from selfishness to generosity to the extent of sharing life's everyday stuff of food and clothes - Luke 3:11.
  • Turned from using questionable business practices to being honest - Luke 3:13.
  • Turned from using intimidation, bullying, and lying to practicing honest justice - Luke 3:14.
  • Turned from whining about wages to being content with them - Luke 3:14.

In these weeks of the Advent season, we also prepare our hearts. As we let the Holy Spirit shine His light into their farthest corners, what do we see that we need to repent of? Perhaps we need to deal with some of the same vices John pointed out of selfishness, dishonesty, bullying and intimidation, injustice, discontentment. Or maybe it's something else—fear and anxiety, distraction, sensuousness, envy, lust…

Whatever God shows us, let's deal with it in repentance (feel remorse, change our mind, reform) as we prepare to celebrate Jesus coming to make His home within us.

Dear God, thank You for this clear and practical example of John the Baptist, who took repentance out of the realm of theory into real life. Please show me where I need to repent.

MORE: Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Today's liturgy begins with this collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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