Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reflections on the Radical Road - The Cycle of Repentance

Based on the sermon series The Radical Road: Abandoning Yourself to Follow Jesus taught by Mike Romberger, Senior Pastor, Mission Hills Church

Sermon Title: A Radical Question – Luke 3:1-14

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Luke 3:8a

Repentance, fully experienced, goes much deeper than the outward behavior others can observe. In fact, repentance leads one through a full range of internal emotions – from grief to joy. Let’s consider some of the emotional features present as one repents.

Conviction – When I consider my sinful behavior, I sense the conviction of wrongdoing. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), and is different from the guilt, shame and condemnation that flows from our enemy. Our sensitivity to this prompting of the Spirit opens the door for us to move into the repentance process.

Grief / Sorrow – Our sinful choices do not happen in a vacuum. Something is always lost or damaged; a dear friendship, our integrity of sense or self-respect, our fellowship with the Lord. It is good, even important, for us to embrace the loss caused by our sin, and to experience the sorrow of what has been damaged.

Desire – Because we don’t enjoy sitting in our grief, our heart begins to turn toward the desire to live differently; to make a different choice, to restore a treasured relationship, to draw near to God again. In order for God to bring about lasting change, our desire should lead us into a state of surrender. This is our willingness to walk a different path going forward, and that doesn’t happen without an internal resolve to do so.

Courage – Change doesn’t come easily. It requires courage and always involves risk. To move through transformational change, we must couple our surrender with a deep sense of resolve to live into the Lord’s strength. In this stage we face our previous behavior and declare, "In the strength of Christ, I will choose a different way. He is able to do this in me, and I am willing."

Joy – Sadly, we often leave the concept of joy out of the repentance process. But if God leads us from grief and through change, then we naturally begin to experience the joy of living differently. When a situation arises in which we would have formerly given in to sin, and yet we respond in a way that demonstrates the transformational power of God at work in our lives, we move into a state of joy.

Can you remember a time when someone commented on what they perceive to be an area of strength in your life, but you understand that this was formerly an area of weakness? You used to give in to sin in this area, but now you walk in the strength of Christ. Oh what joy! What peace! What hope that God can continue to move you deeper into the Christ-like life.

In what area of your life are you ready to experience the full cycle of repentance?

How might these various steps apply to your journey?

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