Dear West – 5 July 2018

Dear West Family

Just a brief one today.

I grew up in a Christian home, which means I was very used to Christian terms and church norms. My grandfather was a pretty fiery preacher, with a huge reputation for “turn or burn” sermons. I think he saw hundreds respond to gospel calls in his services, although I personally know of a few repeat fearful responders. I had some teenaged friends who got saved every time my grandpa preached, you know, just in case.

You see, God had saved my grandpa David from a life of massive rebellion and hopelessness. He described it as being rescued from the brink of hell, and so he preached on hell … often, usually at max volume with a pointed finger. It worked really well. I miss him. He was a wonderful man. But, I also fear that this upbringing at the foot of pretty fiery pulpits may have tainted some language and concepts for me a little bit.

When my grandpa preached, he told us to repent, which all biblically faithful preachers do, and I would in response, but I came to view repentance as a fearful and terrible thing, when in fact it is the opposite. I got in the mode as a young man of repenting in order to try please God but never really experiencing the life giving joy or life changing power of repentance that I heard some speak of.

One particular Scripture really changed my approach on it. It is actually just one part of a verse. “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” – Romans 2:4b (ESV)

I realized that I had an important order wrong that was inhibiting the effectiveness and joy of repentance. I thought that my repentance could lead to God’s kindness, when in fact it is God’s kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance. To be fair, Paul is addressing lawlessness and not legalism in this text, but the order matters whether lawlessness or legalism is your own personal struggle.

GOD IS KIND… therefore REPENT!

So dear friend, maybe enter into the joy of repentance, knowing that a kind God waits to receive you. Repentance is a chance to admit you are wrong in a world of pressure trying to look like you are getting it right, and trust me, you are getting it wrong somewhere.
It is a chance to declare dependence in a world where we are all exhausted from our so called independence. It is a a chance to throw yourself on the goodness of God, and to experience the fullness of joy when you discover just how good He is.

God’s kindness.
What a thing.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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