Monday, December 7, 2015

Advent IX

Back in the days of preaching at the Vidalia United Methodist Church, I had a sound technician who often told me, "If you're saying something I want them to hear, I turn you up.  If you say something I don't want to hear, I turn you down."  Even though it is not quite so easy to tune out the messages we do not want to hear, we have become masters at picking and choosing the messages we do want to hear.  Call it IFM (Internal Filtering Mechanism), or anything else you choose, but at least let us recognize we all have one installed at birth.
Usually, we are good with messages about love and mercy.  But, when we hear the Biblical prophet prototype named John preaching at his listeners and us about repentance, we have a way of tuning out the message.  We tune it out because taking it seriously first of all requires that we admit something is wrong with us.  For the unbeliever repentance requires life cannot be lived rightly without it being focused on Jesus.  And for the believer, it requires admitting that the life we are living before God is not really something which is pleasing to Him.  For both believer and unbeliever, repentance means an admission which declares, "My life is a mess!"
Repentance is an important and necessary step in God's plan for us to get out of and beyond the mess we have made of our life.  Any movement in our life toward a change which will take it in a different direction must begin with us.  We have to take responsibility for the mess we have made.  We also have to take responsibility for taking the first step away from where we are to where God wants us to be.  No one can take it for us.  True repentance takes us to a changed mindset, a changed heart, and a changed lifestyle, but no one can take the first step for any of us. 

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