Before I write anything about this verse, I would like to say that I am aware of the socio-political/historical/future implications of it, contextually. This is not that. This morning, in my thinking chair, I was reading along when I came across this. It is Peter speaking in Solomon’s Portico to the Israelites. He is calling a collective “you” to acknowledge the identity of Christ and turn to Him. These recollections of Peter speaking after Christ’s ascension are so beautiful. I can just feel the tenderness that must have existed, as Jesus left the apostles to carry out His earthly ministry. They missed Him. People were touched as they watched the apostles exist through the tragedy, and then live on Jesus’ behalf after He retook His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Amen, amen.
No wonder thousands were being converted and there was joy in the community. What a sight it must have been! So, the word is living and the Holy Spirit breathes it into us, and even more – will write it on our heart. Let’s look at this verse away from the collective “you” of the Israelites.
This repentance is such a common theme in the bible, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be easier if it was “go get dressed” or “clean your house”? I can do that, most of the time. It is something that does not require any alteration to my ego and it is tangible. Repentance is something that can only be seen by God. It is a heart issue. I am finding out that there are very few issues that God is concerned with other than heart issues.
All things that we can see are the result of heart issues. Modesty is a heart issue. Language is a heart issue. Vanity is a heart issue. The status of our heart issues are the billboards that we choose to set out on the proverbial lawn of our public life. I am finding out that Christ is not a fan of my billboards. I would imagine that He is not a fan of yard art of any kind. Repentance takes the billboards off our lawns; and, let’s face it, one less sign in the world screaming, “Attention Needed Here”, is a good thing.
Our willingness to surrender any issue and glorify Christ in any area of our life is a heart issue. Repentance is a tricky one, though, because no one will know if you really repent. I can’t see your heart. I can watch your symptoms and see where you struggle with sin…your billboards give it away. You might think that you have one sin really under control, but come on…you can see other people’s billboards, right?
Repentance is non-negotiable because it is what allows us to turn to God. It makes us get over ourselves. People, too often, myself included, want to turn to God without doing the business of God. We want to hang out with our friend and never say, “I’m sorry”. I don’t have any friends like that. If I am a jerk, my friends make me step up. If they didn’t, they would be called “Yes People”…and those are not friends.
We do not serve a “Yes God”. That would be the biggest misunderstanding of our lives. We DO NOT serve a yes God. When I have done the work of repentance, I can turn my orientation to God. My entire person, all that I am is turned. We fix our eyes on His face, and all other things fall into place. I don’t remember where I heard this, or if I did, but it has served me well…”Take your eyes off of God’s hands and look at His face”. Turn to His face.
Why do we do this? So that times of refreshing may come form the presence of the Lord. The sound of that is like a hot rock massage to me. We repent of the garbage in our lives, taking the billboards of sinful distress off of our proverbial lawns, and this reorients us to God who is wiping out all of the sin from our lives.
Our job then is to sit and stare at his face while being refreshed. I don’t know what that means to you. Everyone has a different idea of being refreshed. It might be an extended vacation from the incessant noise of your home, someone taking care of you for a change, or just catching your breath. Whether we believe it or not, God can completely refresh us. That should be what our prayer time looks like. He can completely fill us in just a moment of seeing His face. When we empty out our caverns of sin, He fills it with Himself…refreshed.
God is so good because all of this is for a purpose. He does not waste a moment. The time that we invite Him in is to refresh us now, but Jesus is coming again. He is going to gather us up and we will be with Him. We can throw out the billboard building materials. We will spend all of our time seeing His glory with our own eyes. So, get a glass of lemonade and let Him refresh you…it is your eternal destiny.
Lord, thank you for being a God of relationship. Thank you for giving us a way to be before you. Take away the sin in our lives and replace it with refreshment. Give us a glimpse of the refreshment that is waiting for us with you.