Half of Americans have resolved to improve their relationship with God this year. What does that mean?
Among the many synonyms of improve is the idea of straightening out.
This harkens to one of my favorite verses found in the book of Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” - Prov. 3:5-6
1) “Your direction determines your destination.” - Andy Stanley
This time of year finds us filled with good intentions, but it’s not our intentions that get us anywhere. We can intend all we want to leave cold K.C. this Winter for the sunny beaches of Florida. But, if we get on I-35N, even with great intentions, we’ll never arrive to our destination.
Direction is a great word, but often not associated with a word many of us don’t like, and that’s repentance. Repentance is simply turning around or away from the direction of rebellion from God. God loves us too much to let us head down a path of destruction.
2) We Love Life.
“Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10b).” Many people have different views of what the abundant life looks like. Advertising leads us to believe the abundant life is health and wealth. Many preachers even say that’s what God wants for us (Meanwhile, please give toward the 65 million dollar private jet fundraising campaign).
Don’t get me wrong, God does provide all we need, just not all our greed. He does not want us to worry about our provisions. We see in the life of Jesus, who is God Himself, that God is the God who heals. However, above health and wealth is what we’re all seeking, and that’s peace. The Hebrew word is Shalom.
We find that word in the very beginning of God’s story, when God created everything. We (Adam and Eve-our first grandparents) had peace with God, peace with ourselves, peace with others and peace with creation. But we weren’t content with the home God created us for, so we took matters into our own hands. We said, not Thy will be done, but my will be done.
God put the curse in reverse. In that moment, we as humans wanted to become God. In that moment, God’s plan to save us and the world was to become one of us. The huge story of God is of rescue, redemption, restoration, renewal and resurrection. God in the flesh-Jesus, lived the perfect life none of us could live, and died the death we all deserve, and conquered death through His resurrection.
God will get the glory that is due Him, and it will come through our surrender to Him. That means making a 180, turning from self to God for the life He created us to have. That’s the what and why of repentance. When we repent, then and only then can we experience peace with God, ourselves, others and creation. That was the original design of God when He created the world and us to live life to the fullest.
Maybe when we hear the word repent, we don’t have to think of the guy standing on the street corner with a bullhorn screaming at strangers, “Turn or Burn!” I already get that I need to change or improve, or turn. My heart resonates with the ancient Hymn, “Prone to wander Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
3) We Were Made For Home.
Instead, we should see repentance as a call from our good, good Father (I can’t help but hear Chris Tomlin singing this right now) to come home. Home is where our heart is at peace, the place where Jesus rules, the place where we were made for and ultimately belong.
Join the conversation! What do you think? Will repentance help us improve our relationship with God this year? Will the church truly desire to know God more this year? Will we recognize we must grow more like Christ, who sacrificed His life so we might live life to the fullest? I affirm the promise of scripture, that we can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!
Much love and grace to you all. To God be the glory forever.
On the journey together,