November 16 I Friday
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” —Acts 2:38
The Christian life can be very frustrating and disappointing when nothing seems to come alive. We may have been raised in a Christian family, attended church, read the Bible, but it is simply not working. Even our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce off the floor. Why can’t we get excited like everyone else?
Feeling like this is a slippery slope that will eventually cause us to seek fulfillment elsewhere. We may find a temporary fix in feeling free to live the way we want, but the enjoyment of that will lose its appeal. After a while, what we are engaging in will become as shallow as we feel inside. We will begin to think the Christian life we grew up with had something valid to it after all. So we go back and try even harder, but it is still not working.
I have counseled many folks whose Christian lives have never come alive, and the problem has been in a lack of repentance. Repentance is an ongoing day to day disposition of turning from sin and living in humble dependence upon God. Some have never actually been born again because they have not come to that place of recognizing their need for repentance. Their motivation for coming back to the Christian faith turns out to be the same as leaving it in the first place. They are seeking fulfillment, happiness, freedom, and it all centres around themselves. If we want to feel alive in Christ, we must ask Him to come into our lives, not as our servant but as our Lord.
We first have to deal with the barriers that have kept us from experiencing Christ. Engaging in sin and a sense of self-sufficiency and independence are barriers that need to be lifted. We have to ask ourselves: What are we really desperate for? Is it for Christ-centred fulfillment or for self-centred fulfillment? If there is no evidence that we are concerned with humbly confessing our sin and acknowledging our insufficiency, then it may well be we are more interested in pleasing ourselves than in pleasing and finding fulfillment in Him.
If our goal is for personal, self-centred fulfillment, no wonder the Christian life is not working for us. Repentance is not about feeling good about ourselves, nor solely about easing our consciences. The point of repentance is so we will be brought into union with Christ. We are never closer to the heart of God than when we humbly confess our sin and are turning our lives around to live in dependence on Him and for His purposes. This is where we find trust and lasting fulfillment.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, keep me from being self-serving. Give me a heart that seeks to please You and lives each day dependent on You. Thank You, Lord.