If John the Baptist sat down with us at our breakfast table, what would his message be? It’s the holiday season, so would he tell us, “Don’t forget about sharing and caring and loving as you prepare for Christmas?” Somehow, that sounds pretty un-John-like to me.
The fact is, John would tell us that we need to repent. He’d say that there’s something wrong with us, and it’s time to change. But how would we respond? Having someone point a finger at you and say ‘Repent!’ can be pretty offensive. Maybe you’d think to yourself – “What does this guy know? I’m fine the way I am. I work hard. I take care of my personal responsibilities. I’m not perfect, but I’m OK.” But that’s the problem, We’re not perfect. And the Bible makes it very clear that God is not satisfied with anything except perfection.
God wants us to be the perfect husband, the perfect wife, the perfect son or daughter; to be a perfect worker on the job; to be perfectly loving, perfectly patient, perfectly kind, perfectly generous, not just in our actions, but in our thinking. We need to be a perfect Christian, a perfect person of prayer, a perfect worshiper, a perfect student of the Word of God. Jesus Christ says, “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
But you and I know we can’t do it on our own. We aren’t perfect. And according to the Word of God, if you’re not perfect, then you’re sinful. That’s why John the Baptist would tell us, “Repent”.
There are three “R’s” to repentance. The first one is recognizing your sin. That is what those first century Christians did: “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins…” Recognize your sin.
Where have you been less than perfect in your life? Look back on your conversations, on the way you’ve dealt with the people around you. Think about your relationship with God. Think about your thoughts. Where have you been less than perfect? Recognize your sin and confess your sin to Christ.
After that first “R” of repentance comes the second “R:” receiving forgiveness from God. Mark 1:4 talks about a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The Lord God almighty forgives you for all your imperfections. Because of Christ, your sins are gone.
The final “R” is reforming your life. That means that after you’ve been forgiven for being impatient, you try to become patient in your life. After you’ve been forgiven for having a bad temper, you become gentle. That’s hard.
But someone is coming. Someone greater than you, greater than me. He’s the one who’ll give you courage to confess all your sins to God and take all of your sins away. He’s the one who will strengthen you and change you into a new person, a new creation. With Him, we can do it. So, be ready.