It seems like every few months there’s another high profile Christian who loses their ministry because of sin. Or there’s another teacher that slides from theological orthodoxy to heresy. Why? Why do these people who have such significant ministries lose their way?
They have forgotten repentance.
That’s all dramatic. But,what about us? How many of us have bright shining lights in a dark and broken world? Some of us have no problem shouting the way of salvation from the rooftops. Yet our hearts are filled with pride and arrogance. Our light has dimmed. Our evangelism has little power or efficacy. Why? Because we’re shoving our light further and further under into the cellar. When we move from a posture of repentance we move into a posture of self-righteousness. This darkens our light.
Many of us who are Christians need to rediscover the necessity of repentance to our Christians lives.
In Luke 11:29-36 Jesus says this,
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say,“This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
What is this sign of Jonah? If you remember Jonah’s story from the Hebrew Scriptures you will recall that Jonah was a reluctant prophet. He was tasked to go and preach to a people who were “stiff necked”. He actually hated the Ninevites. Jonah tried and tried to avoid going there. Yet, he finally repented and took his message of repentance and faith to the people of Nineveh. When they heard the message they repented. Jesus says, the people don’t need signs. They need to respond in repentance, like the people of Nineveh.
He goes on to explain further. He talks about how we don’t hide a lit lamp under a basket or in a cellar. Then he talks about this strange thing about our eye being the lamp of our body and that we need to keep it healthy so that we don’t get filled with darkness. What in the world is Jesus talking about?
Repentance and faith.
Remember, right before this he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” To live this kind of life requires us to live life of repentance and faith. Repentance is that act of turning from sin back towards God. Imagine in your mind’s eye that as we are sinning we are walking away from God. When we repent we turn 180 degrees back toward God and step out in faith. When we live in a posture of repentance and faith then our “eye” will be healthy and our light won’t be hidden, but will shine forth for all to see.
None of us like repenting. It means that we have to admit that we’re wrong and that we have sinned. It forces us to look in the mirror and deal with our own prideful hearts. Repenting is hard work but it is formative. When we repent we experience grace and mercy. We remember again the joy of our salvation. We are reminded that God is our Father loving us perfectly and receiving us again in grace.