“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ” Matthew 3:1–3
The message God has given his people to proclaim to this poor, sin soaked world has never been more unpopular.
Repentance is a call to leave the sinful life you’ve been living, to turn from it, and to turn to a life of righteousness and obedience to God. Inherent within this message is the pointing out to, and the identification of sin as sin. People have always preferred to be left alone to wallow in their sin. Guilt has never been a pleasurable burden to bear and if you can forget you carry it it’s believed that you’re a happy person indeed. Some countries and communities have even granted legal protections to some behaviors God has identified as sin and any proclamation against those behaviors is decried as hate speech and punishable under the law. Were John the Baptist living today I fear he would not have received nearly the following he received when he began his ministry two thousand years ago.
To be a John the Baptist in this world requires faith and courage. Faith in God that he is leading and will give you wisdom and strength, and courage to face whatever backlash you will experience as a result of your obedience to God’s call.
Never has it been more urgent for this world to hear a call to repentance. John when he preached was working to prepare a nation to receive the Messiah when he would come to purchase our salvation, but we are called to alert a world to the nearness of the coming of Lord to gather his saints to himself and begin the work of judging those that have rejected him, his love, his law, and his governance. John was announcing the beginning of God’s atonement we proclaim its end.
But the repentance we are called to proclaim isn’t bad news. The heart of repentance is that God loves us even though we are wretched, sinful, rebellious, and poor. He loves us more that he loves his own life and he wants us to choose to love him in return.
The call to repentance also has at its heart the assurance that God will accept us if we will turn to him. We’re not capable of actually repenting on our own. We can choose repentance but we don’t have the strength or ability to act on the choice. It’s God who gives us his Spirit so we can actually begin to live a life free from sin.
It’s probable that we won’t have the popular acceptance that John experienced, Matthew records that the people of the whole region were coming out to hear him and to repent. But some, today, are waiting to hear the message of repentance God’s given us. Some will turn to God and repent, and it’s for these, and our Heavenly Father who yearns for them, that we make our call. God’s love is too good to not be shared. And even if we must risk all to share Him it’s worth it to see a heart reborn and a soul set free.