Saturday, February 25, 2012

Produce Fruits in Keeping with Repentence

Last night it was my girlfriend's b-day.

As we sit by the beach, enjoying the stars, the quietness, the rolling waves and each other, we talked about many things.

As we often discussed about our relationship, how do we learn to love one another, love God and help each other to love God, I mentioned the importance of not bringing a bag of sins into our relationship.  For a guy (also for a girl), it is important to come together blameless and pure before God.  After all, if we are to pursuit a Christ-centered relationship together, if I am going to be a spiritual leader, how can I do so without taking care of the sins from my past.

For me, before I know of my girlfriend, God asked me to make peace to those broken relationships.  In most cases, it is me going to the person and asking forgiveness.

I also shared how important it was for me to reconcile previous relationships.  I do not want to bring any baggage from previous relationships to this one.

I remember a long time ago I knew of a Christian young couple.  They were dating and very in love.  Everyone was expecting them to get marry.  One night, the guy called me in distress.  They had sex.  The guy felt shameful and guilty for what he had done.  He wanted to do the right thing by confessing to the girl's parents. The girl did not wanted her dad to find out and forbid him to do so.  The relationship deteriorated and they ended going their separate ways.

In Christian context, we consider sexual intercourse as a symbol of union between husband and wife coming together as one.   It is more than just a physical experience. It is a spiritual experience.

I thought the need for repentance and reconciliation.  I put these words side by side because of the passage I find in Luke 3.  This is the passage when John the Baptist is preparing the way for Jesus Christ by preaching a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  This is what John said to the crowd who came out to be baptized by him....

 “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Luke 3:7b-9

After declaring this, three group of people asked John what they should do.   In each case, John told them they should change their way of living to produce good fruits.

First, the crowd asked him what they should do.  John said:

"Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)

A sign of generosity and compassion to those in need.

Second, the tax collectors asked John for advice:

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” (Luke 3:13)

A sign of fairness and not be greedy.

Lastly, the soldiers asked John what should they do.  John said:

“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14)

A sign of justice.

In all cases, those who baptized, repented and asked for forgiveness, changed their lifestyle.  To say a prayer of repentance is not enough.  Those who are truly repented will say and be responsible to act in order to make things right (or produce fruits).

When we are convicted by our own sins, we choose to simply say a prayer of repentance and walk away.  We do not restore the broken relationship.  We do not reconcile those who wrong against us.  We simply not do.  We think, 'well it is in the past. It is not important' or 'it doesn't matter. It is not a big deal.'

One might think that after all it is only God who we sin against (Psalm 51:4), why do we need to go to that person and reconcile?

Our hindrance to do so is not because we only sin against God and don't need to approach that person.   The reason is self pride.  It takes a lot of humility to go to that person and make peace.  It might mean that we are wrong and they are right.  It means that we lower ourselves and admit that it is our fault.

Those who follow Jesus not only make peace to those who they wrong but even those who wrong against them (Matthew 5:23).

I lost touch with the couple I mentioned before.  After a few years, I heard that the girl found another person and is engaged.  Everyone is happy and joyful.  I wonder how the past will affect the present relationship.

A person who has a strong relationship with God will have peace with those around him/her.  Reconciliation and restoration will be a sign of someone who is producing fruits.  After all, if God reconcile and restore our standings with Him, wouldn't it make sense for us to do the same to our neighbors and our friends?  True repentance affect our human relationship as well as our relationship with Him.

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