This is what Jesus means when he says,
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. … Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. (John 14:21 & 23)
In the Biblical language “to hear” carries with it the expectation of a response: “If you truly hear me you will respond by doing what I say.”
Now I must caution you, this is not a call to get busy at church and community activities and such. Before we respond with action and activities, we must first respond in our hearts – viscerally.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter, now filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke deeply into the hearts of his fellow Jews. Their response?
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
“Cut to the heart” is indeed a visceral response. And Peter’s call to action?
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Repent and … be. Repent and receive. Not repent and … do.
You have heard that repent means, “to stop doing what you are doing.” Or more accurately, “to turn around; to change direction.” These are accurate, yet they omit the deeper sense of the meaning.
When we are on the wrong path, we repent, we turn around, we change direction. Yes. But where are we turning? Or the better question, “To whom are we turning?” What is our new direction?
To repent means to come Home.
We have been on the wrong path, all of us, and we must get off this path and get on the right path – the path that leads us to our true home. To our Father’s home.
There are of course areas in your life even now where you must repent, as in to change your current behavior. But more importantly, are you on the path home?
In keeping with last week’s Putting Green on finding Jesus in secular music, I have another song for you:
He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door.
“Rocky Mountain High,” John Denver
“Coming … home … to a place he’d never been before.”
In the summer of my 38th year I “came home to a place I had never been before.” Yes, you can say I was born again. Since then, to be sure, I have drifted off the path, and “wandered around the desert, and followed the wrong gods home.” (Eagles)
But now I seek to repent quickly, to get back on the path home. I know when I am off the path, and so do you.
May you, my friend, seek the right path, the only path to your true home, as you hear and you respond to:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls”. (Jer. 6:16)