Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Focus of Repentance

"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge."

Psalm 51:4

The above words are taken from a famous biblical psalm that was written by King David after he was convicted by God with regard to his sin. Whilst I was at home group on Wednesday studying Ephesians 4, we were discussing repentance... and I was reminded of a truth about it, which I feel I should share.

Too often we focus on the things we have done wrong... we wallow in them and make it all about us. In a perverse way... is it possible that sometimes our "repentance" can be self centred?

Think about when you have let one of your friends and family down, or hurt or disappointed someone who is very important to you. At such times, which was more important to you? Making up for your actions... or restoring your relationship with the affected person?

I want to take you back to my blog of September 9th. During that time, I experienced a strong convicting sensation that I had let God down. It was knowing how much I had hurt God that enabled me to change a few things round for the better. I believe this is because neither myself, nor my previous actions were the focus in my repentance. I believe that God was.

This is therefore my encouragement to you. When you have been convicted of doing wrong, be mindful of your actions and repent of them... but do not concentrate on them. Concentrate your thoughts instead on the One you love... on God himself.

Being a Christian is not a matter of worshipping a distant, vague being... it's about engaging passionately in a relationship with God, through the saving power of Jesus. King David - who I quoted at the beginning, was described as a man after God's own heart. He didn't just follow a set of rules and regulations, or offer sacrifices and rituals to ease his conscience. He pursued a genuine relationship with God - whose thoughts and feelings really mattered to him... even when he could not understand them... or when they conflicted with his own actions and desires. When you read David's compositions in the Psalms, you see a man who is being brutally honest about himself and open with God. We need to be the same.

If you genuinely want to turn away from your sins, then you should invest in developing your relationship with God... because it his strength that enables us to walk in the paths of righteousness.

Maybe that sounds a little heavy... so here is a clip from The Empire Strikes Back, that I'll use to illustrate my point :

In the above clip, Luke fails to use the force to lift his spacecraft out of a swamp... he sees it in terms of it's size and his own ability. Yoda instead, simply focuses on the true source of strength inside and summons the ship out of the murky waters and onto dry land. Now I'm not suggesting for a minute that God is merely a "force". He is a real person. What I'm trying to illustrate, is that as Christians, if we look to ourselves too much... we aren't going to be tapping into God's infinite riches. It is God who takes away our sin and it is God who equips us with power from on high, to be able to perform mighty deeds in his service. Like Luke we need to stop trying and start believing.... and be God centred, not self centred... even and especially when know we have done wrong. If we continually look at how we have failed, instead of looking to Jesus Christ who gives us the victory over our sins... then we will continue to stumble.

My prayer is that God will enable every one of you to walk upright in his grace.

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