“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Going to the Jersey shore as a kid was a highlight of every year. My brothers and I couldn’t wait to build sandcastles, play boardwalk games and – more than anything – plunge into the surf. Careful to step into the ocean only where the lifeguards allowed, between the two flags, we would body surf, boogie board and otherwise splash about. Invariably, we would soon hear the shrill whistles of the lifeguards, who were waving frantically at us. We had drifted beyond the flag, outside of their safe jurisdiction. Oblivious to the subtle but persistent undertow, we were so intent on our fun and frolic that we drifted beyond a timely rescue in the event of an emergency.
Our spiritual lives can sometimes mirror this kind of inattention. Perhaps this is because the grace that God affords us in Jesus is not limited in its reach; we therefore lack proper concern over spiritual drift. Like riptides, though, sin patterns take hold and pull us farther from the solid ground our Lord has provisioned. We are then subject to currents over which we have no control: bitterness, worldly fears, despair, addiction, temper, self-righteousness…the list seems inexhaustible. Even for God’s very elect, these sins can easily consume us and destroy not only our relationships, but also our capacity to effectively communicate the Gospel.
So, why is Jesus echoing John the Baptist’s cries for repentance in Mark 1? After all, as he said, the Kingdom had come near. Wasn’t repentance now an obsolete concept? Hardly. Citizenship in the Kingdom, like citizenship in your community, or even admittance to your favorite beach, requires adherence to rules and ordinances. Implicit in your participation is a willing heart: a recognition that those directives are from a worthy source and intended for our good. We all need to check our behavior against God’s standards. Yes, there is grace for the times we fail – but not if we hold His moral law in contempt.
This is Lent: a time to examine our souls. Have we unconsciously drifted from His calling on our lives? Return to scripture, confess all sin and dethrone every idol that dares compete with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Only when we intentionally remain within the flags our God has planted can we live as Easter people – a redeemed, restored and forgiven race. The worldly cross-currents are powerful…but lame against the mighty name of Jesus.
PRAYER: Lord, grant us the strength, will, and desire to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil so we may enjoy our heavenly citizenship, purchased with the Blood of Christ, today and forever. Amen.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.