Our theme for this month is ‘Crucifying Your Flesh.’ The scripture for the month is:
Anyone who wishes to come after Me, must deny himself and take up his own cross and follow Me.- Mark 8:34
What does it mean to repent? We hear the word used in church all the time but does it actually mean what the churchworld believes that it does? If you ask the average person what it means to repent, they would tell you that it means to feel sorry for your sins. Or they might tell you that it means to ask forgiveness for your sins. While both of these are good and necessary, neither one of these is repentance. In ancient Hebrew, the word ‘repent’ literally meant to turn around. A person who repented was someone who realized that they were going the wrong way so they changed their path, turned around, and went a different way.
This week, one of my favorite people in the church went on to glory. Mom Howard was someone that I made a point to seek out every time there was a chance. It always blessed me to visit with her. You see, she was radical in her repentance and radically saved. She truly understood what it was to be sold-out for Christ. Don’t get me wrong. I never heard her bring up the old Adamic nature. I never heard her tell tales about how bad she was lost in sin prior to Christ. Most people who want to spend two hours telling you their backstory about how lost they were (and then only five minutes talking about the change that Jesus made) are secretly into an ego trip. They are fishing around for compliments on how good they are doing. No, Glorifying the past or what you had to do to overcome it is not radical repentance. It’s prideful ignorance that unconsciously attempts to rob God of His glory.
Mom Howard’s repentance was radical not because of shame, guilt, or anything that was overcome. Her repentance was not radical because she felt unworthy or tortured by her past. No, Her repentance was radical because it wasn’t ever focused on her. Once she decided to turn away from herself and toward Jesus, she never stopped following Him. I can picture her as a young woman singing the song “Where He leads me, I will follow, I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.” Or the second verse which says “Though He leads me to the altar, I’ll say “Yes, Lord, Yes Lord”, all the way.
She knew that an altar was a place of death where self-will was crucified. Yet she followed Him there. It is incredibly significant that every day to her was Sunday. Every day was another chance to repent, i.e. to turn away from herself and follow Jesus as closely as possible. Her walk with Christ was never about her. From what I saw of her, I don’t think she would ever have allowed it to become about her. She just purposefully intended in her heart to follow Jesus each and every day and to live a life of continually saying “Yes Lord, all the way.”
No matter how our modern world would misunderstand or try to redefine it, this is the only form of faith and radical repentance that will last. May we learn from and follow the humble example that this Godly woman set for us.
With all my love. In honor for a life that followed Christ and said “Yes Lord, all the way.”
Pastor Ed Brewer