This is the question that keeps coming up in pondering conversations around town. Several folks are asking questions – If an activity becomes legal, how are the Church Elders to respond to those engaging in the activity? Primarily – thinking of Legalized Marijuana, and Marriages. Thinking of folks coming to fellowship, already engaged in these legal activities, and then wanting to become a part of a leadership team.
There is the big question of what types of activities would be allowed, as many ‘un christian’ activities are frowned up on by Elders. What is decided as Ok and Not OK. It is interesting as I listen to a variety of folks share their hearts. Their lines that can not be crossed, their openness to ‘this much activity’ but no more. And when do we call it sin? And when is it habitual sin and the person has no desire to change?
With my boys, I like to look to see their hearts, above their activities. Their words and actions stem out of their heart. What are their intentions? What drove them to do an undesirable action? We have spent years using a tool that helps us bring each action back to the Word, to shape their character, and as we’ve directed their hearts and thoughts towards God, their behavior has changed instantly. In the lives of others, especially adults, I seem to have a lot of grace to see their hearts. Where they are with the Lord, or not with the Lord right now, and accept their behaviors and habits. I know that the Holy Spirit will speak to them and direct them in the way He wants them to go. That it is not really my job.
I don’t want to judge others for their behaviors – I am responsible for my own, and what I allow in my own home. As my boys reach a more adult stage, I feel more loss of control over what they see, experience, say and do. I can only pray and advise and not enable.
We are studying a lot about the Kingdom. Walking in the Kindgom. The Gospel of the Kindgom. Praying in the Kingdom. And that’s great. I’m all for it. Pretty excited about it actually – which is a whole different post. But in all of these conversations – there seems to be a puzzle piece missing. While talking about what others can and can’t do – there is a word from my childhood – left unsaid.
It came to me this Sunday as we were singing during Worship. All of the feel good songs. Songs longing for Righteousness. Longing for His Presence. Longing for Peace and for Healing. And I heard a voice whisper, “Do they long for repentance?”
Repent. A change of thinking, a change of understanding.
The NLT says “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The NIV and KJV says simply “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt 3:2 This sited in Matthew Mark and Luke, and throughout the rest of the New Testament. The disciples “went out, and preached that men should repent.” Mark 6:12
I see the words Joy, Repent, and Perish together quite a few times – “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:10 I was reading in Second Peter this week – and saw a verse that I have been misquoting with friends. It comes up in conversations where people are justifying folks who are living with many chosen habitual sins – living as the World lives – giving into their sinful natures. I’d say something like – “Well, the Lord doesn’t desire for anyone to perish, and He sent His son to forgive all of our sins, so I suppose it is between them and the Lord.” A huge light shown on this verse this week, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Somehow, in my own speech and memory – I was talking about the first part of the verse, and ignoring the last. He wants All to come to repentance. And in the list of verses, Perish/Destroyed/Destruction is a huge them as the opposite of Repent. Blue Letter Bible Repentance Search Results
And this Sunday, as we were singing, I saw it as a person who knows that they are unhealthy. Living a life with food that does not lead to food as fuel, but food as reward. They know that they are sick, and the see folks who are healthy, so they start asking what they DO to be so fit and trim. They do a lot of study on eating plans and pick a new way of eating. They are sure that this will help them become healthy.
So they add fruit or oatmeal to breakfast, more veggies on their sandwich and sometimes choose better grain breads for lunch, and start roasting up a storm with veggies for dinner. They might even cut down on sugar drinks and add more water. BUT, they don’t get rid of their bagels and donuts with their coffee dates, or throw out/quit buying the bags of potato chips, and continue to lather their french bread with butter and cheese at dinner. They’re focused on exercise and adding healthy foods, but they have not changed their minds or understanding about food as fuel, and continue to digest the bad foods. Are they ever going to find true health? Will their bodies change for life? If they choose to add pre-packaged shakes for meal replacements – what happens they no longer can afford them, or no longer desire shakes for lunch? They will go back to their old selves. I’m sure you get my point –
I am seeing so many people wanting to walk powerfully in the Kingdom. They want to shine Righteousness, Reflect His Glory, BE peace and love and hope, but they have no desire to repent from their old lives. Turn from the sin, put off their sinful nature. It doesn’t have to be the two big issues of our state that I mentioned above, it can be anything. Any sin that you choose to say is OK for your.
My prayer is that we don’t give up on Repentance. That we don’t shy away from talking about repentance. If a loved one is asking, “Do you think xyz is Ok for me to do? Do you think abc is ok for them to do and still be in ministry?” May my response be with mercy and grace and love. May I be able to ask them what the Lord has responded to the question. May I ask them if they have searched scriptures in the matter. May I ask of they have a willingness to change their mind and understanding and behavior (repent). May I long myself, for a repentance that leads to forgiveness. Not only towards my Lord but towards my hubby, my children and my friends.
Thanks for pondering with me this morning.