There is a strange lack of emphasis on repentance in many parts of the church today. Our text tells us that our Lord's very first sermons in His preaching ministry was "Repent." We see from other passages in the Gospels that He stresses this message again and again. Peter took up this same theme on the Day of Pentecost, in the first sermon he ever preached (Acts 2:38). Indeed, the word repentance appears in one form or another throughout the whole of the New Testament. Why, then, is repentance such a missing factor (generally speaking) in contemporary Christianity? Is it because in our anxiety to get more converts we avoid the subject of repentance and prefer the quick sales job of getting people to pray the kind of prayer that requires no radical transformation? Once I heard an evangelist tell his converts: "Pray this prayer after me, and you will have a mansion in heaven ... perhaps even have charge of ten cities when Christ returns to this earth to establish His kingdom." The prayer he then invited them to pray went something like this: "O God, make me a Christian ... and grant that I might inherit all that is available to me in Christ." What bothered me about the prayer was not that it was invalid but that it was not based on first principles. The primary thing we have to understand on entering the Christian life is that Jesus Christ is Lord. That means we are no longer lord over our lives -- He is. Happy are those who enter the Christian life with this clear understanding.
O God, help me put first things first. I see that successful Christian living depends on You being first and me being second. Am I really ready and willing for this? Help me search my soul. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What has God promised to the penitent?
2. How did the prodigal son display repentance?