Friday, June 08, 2007

Unless You Repent, You Too Will All Perish

Luke 13

People perish. Everyday. People sin. Everyday. People perish because of the sins of others; people perish because of their own sins. People don't perish because their own sins are worse than another's; comparing your sins to another doesn't lessen the fate of perishing.

Jesus puts all sinners on the same level: you all will perish - from the "least" sinner to the "greatest" sinner - unless you repent. How can Jesus, in one sentence, highly offend the "righteous" people and offer hope to the "unright" people? Jesus is patient with big sinners and little sinners; but if sinners don't repent, they perish like a fruit tree that is barren.

To repent of one's sins - little ones and big ones (if you must insist on grading your foibles...) - is to let Jesus set you free from your infirmity, your iniquity. To insist that one is without sin, or one's sins are not really sins, or just little sins, or not that big of a sin compared to that other to be crippled, to be proud, to be unfree.

When one does repent of one's sins - which is an act worthy of great celebration since it happens so rarely and is a beautiful work of God - it is as if one's life opens up into a mighty tree by which others find refuge and shade. It is like the elements that make for savory bread which fuel a new kind of life.

Jesus is teaching this "good news" and someone asks him: "Are only a few people going to be saved/forgiven/healed?" Of course this fellow is a pious, righteous law-abider; he is anticipating a pat on the head and a knowing nod of approval. But Jesus sticks to his point - whoever repents will be saved - not just the genetic-connected children of Abraham, but children from all over the world will be saved. Many will not be saved - evildoers who refused to repent, they don't want to be saved; they want to be told something else. But children from the north - Russia, Syria, Germany; children from the east - Iran, China, India; children from the south - Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria; children from the west - Brazil, Mexico, Canada...all those who will repent of their sin will be forgiven.

But if you don't want to be forgiven, God won't force it on you. But if you do want freed from the bad effects of your life in this world...God will throw a feast for you to celebrate your homecoming.

Repent of your sins. Be set free from your sins. Join our Generous and Patient and Delightful God in a New Way of Living.

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