I have enough Internet to post something that’s been on my heart today. This will be short and simple, hopefully to the point.
Jesus calls us to follow Him. Simple enough, right? He calls us “while we were yet sinners.” He calls us to life in Him and gives us faith in the gospel.
But what does He require us to do before we start following Him? Does He tell us we have to be making progress in the faith before He uses us? Does He call those who kinda got it all together?
No. The gospel is all about Jesus calling the dead to rise to life in Him. The only action on our part is to respond to that call in repentance and faith. That’s it. What does that look like?
Repentance isn’t going from being bad to being good. It’s a change of allegiance. It’s a turning from one way of life to embrace another. So what it does not mean is that you never fail again. In fact, you’ll continue to struggle with sin for the rest of your life. But it’s a struggle. It’s a fight. Dead people don’t fight. It doesn’t take a college education to see that.
As J. D. Greear would put it, “repentance is not the absence of struggle, but the absence of settled defiance.” You’ll continue to find where you fall short of Christ and His ways, but instead of loving your sin and defying Christ, you joyfully repent and trust in Jesus to lead you to new ways. This process encompasses all of life.
When we repent, we look with faith on the gospel. Our only hope for salvation is what Jesus has done on our behalf. His life, His obedience, His righteousness, His death for us, His satisfying the wrath of God for us, and His resurrection from the dead. We put our hope to enter God’s kingdom solely on His merit, not ours.
And this leads us to lose ourselves in Him and find our life in our Lord. But this is a process. And it is completely carried out by the grace of our Lord.
My mom loves me, no doubt about that. She loves me because I’m her child. That’s it. She doesn’t need another reason. But she doesn’t love the mistakes I make. I doubt she loved the struggles to mature that every person has early on in life. Babies fall down a lot. They make mistakes. They touch things that are way too hot, when mommy and daddy have told them 17 times not to touch the stove.
But still, they love them. And they help them grow. And they give themselves to this mission: raising their children.
As Christ gave everything to save us, so also will He devote Himself fully to sanctify us and one day bring us to sinless perfection in the new kingdom. John Piper says our motivation for holiness is God’s faithfulness in making us holy.
And that mission, that new life, that fresh start can start right now, no matter who or where you are. Jesus doesn’t wait for you to get cleaned up first. Run to Him in your mess. Trust in Him. Watch Him work. He died for us “while we were yet sinners.” While we are actively opposing Him, He change us from children of wrath to children of God. And the outward change doesn’t come overnight. But it does come. He promises that. Our hope is not in ourselves or how far we’ve come, but in what Christ has done. Our transformation, our sanctification is a necessary fruit of receiving that, but don’t switch sanctification and justification.
Christ will take you just as you are. He wants you that way. He loves you, even in your sin. But He does refuse to leave you that way. The process of growing more Christlike is a long, hard one filled with failure and a whole lot of repentance. But we have a fixed hope in His work, and in His resurrection, we have reason to move forward. And in our faith in Him, we know one day, it will be completed. We’ll be home.
Come to Jesus. Just as you are. Live.
Lord, may we love you because you first loved us. May we be changed by you. May we never lose sight of our hope in You.