The last two Sundays the Gospel reading from Luke has brought us face to face with the forerunner of the Messiah - John the Baptist. I guess he knew what he was going to be when he grew up, after all his parents named him in such a way that they wanted the world to know what he was going to do. He was called John "the Baptist." (LOL - think that one through. It is like I knew I was going to be a pastor when my parents named me "pastor" Mitchel Schuessler. At least that is what children might think.)
John had one message to proclaim - "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand." I thought about what it means to repent. Do we really know what it means? I thought about it, I thought back to the "beer summit" at the White House. Pres Obama, the firefighter and the professor (I can't remember their names), sat down at the White House, had a beer and worked out their problems. Oh wait a minute, they didn't work out their problems. In fact, it was reported that they didn't even talk about the issues that they had between them. The president didn't apologize to the firefighter for "dissing" his work. The professor didn't apologize for his ridiculous charge of racism when he was the one that was causing issues. And the firefighter was not supposed to bring those things up, so in the end, no one had to "repent" of the situation. Drink a beer and it will be all right. Is that what John was saying?
No way! John would say that each one should repent of their sins. Don't go blaming the other person, some other event. Each one of us should look into our hearts, see where we have been wrong and repent of it. That is foreign to people today. We live in an age that doesn't want to take responsibility for ones actions. Instead we want to go on like nothing happened.
But we can't. If we allow sin to continue to fill our hearts, to eat away at us, there is absolutely no way that we can heal from the situation. Just the opposite is true. We will only slip further and further into sinful actions. We will continue to hurt one another.
So what am I saying? Take a look at yourself, your actions, your words. Honestly look at what you have done today or this last week. If you have hurt someone by what you have said or done, the repent of it. Ask God to forgive you for Christ's sake. Then go to your brother, sister or to the person you have offended and ask them to forgive you. If you have been talking behind someones back, stop it! Why are you doing it? If you have something to say, and can't say it to them or in front of them, then why are you saying it? Are you looking out only for yourself? Or are you looking for what is good for others? Then talk to them. If you can't, then don't talk about it at all. It is just wrong!
Will it be easy? No way. But that is the message that John the Baptist was proclaiming. Live in Christ. Live for Him alone, not for yourself and your sinful desires. Repent! And bear the fruit worthy of repentance. Listen to John.