Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Graphic Witness of Repentance

We all, by our lives,
Make a response to God’s good grace,
We all respond to the gospel,
By our acts before God’s face.
“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
— Acts 26:20b (NIV)
ACTIVE are we in our lives to respond to God and his extravagance of grace to save us – but we are often active by our passivity. Too often we are found active in our resistance to the purposes of God. For a good instance, what we worship, by our piqued interests in many worldly pursuits, usurps the place of God in our hearts.
Nothing is hidden from the face of God. Everything happens before his face. We all respond to the gospel. By our deeds we have responded. It’s not what we say that counts, but it’s what we do.
Far too many Christians don’t take the response required of the true gospel seriously. And when we do this – yes, I’ll include myself, because like everyone else I fall short – we not only offend God, we affect people who might otherwise be on the path to belief. You see, those yet to believe are watching Christians and they smell wanton hypocrisy fifteen miles off. We are all hypocrites and the worst of sinners, but where we truly blow it is we don’t admit it. We don’t tell the truth. We don’t tell on ourselves. The knowledge of our sin seems too far off to really upset us. It should upset us enough to compel us toward repentance – to reconcile the moment back to truth. When we fall short, we should know, admit it, and turn back to God. Non-Christians don’t see this nearly enough.
Our living challenge is – one moment at a time – to be trained to behave according to our belief – that the two entwine and align – that what we say we do we actually do. This is about awareness, first, and then the decision, second, to act. And then it’s about acting with consistency – not with one hundred percent precision – for we all make mistakes – but consistently honouring the truth.
We can act with integrity every single moment; getting it wrong is an opportunity, not a threat. Possibly, getting it wrong is a more powerful testimony of God’s work in us because we demonstrate the humility to pour contempt on our pride. When we abide to the truth it makes believers of non-believers because our credibility in their eyes soars.
By our acts we are known, and not so much by what we say. A believer is known by their deeds that align with what they believe; our beliefs are intrinsically connected with what we do. We cannot say we believe in Jesus and deliberately enter into sin without cause for repentance.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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