During the last few months of 2020, I kept being drawn to the same books of the Bible over and over again. I spent days and weeks in Micah and Amos, Acts and James. Again and again, I would be pulled to the pronouncement of God’s judgment in the Old Testament and the books about the early church.
As I oscillated between these books of the Bible, I felt deep conviction as I looked at the world around me. Those things God judged the nation of Israel for, I was also guilty of. The things the early church did so faithfully, I had been neglecting, sometimes by accident and sometimes willfully.
The more I read these books the more I had to repent. I often wouldn’t be able to get very far in reading a chapter of the Bible without having to stop and acknowledge my own sin. When I took the time to truly look at the goodness of God and his utter and complete holiness, I couldn’t help but recognize my own sinfulness.
As I’ve been processing through my own sins and receiving God’s love and mercy, I keep feeling an urgency for the church to repent. I believe that God is calling his people to come running to him. He is beckoning us to himself, asking us to submit and surrender everything to him. God is uncovering hidden and culturally-approved sins because he wants to purify, heal, and restore his church.
Honestly, I’ve been nervous to write this particular series because I know it’s going to upset some people. I am going to step on some toes. This isn’t going to be a fun series, but I feel strongly that I need to write it.
I believe the Lord wants to deal with the sins that have infected the church.
As I’ve been praying about what God wants me to write, I keep returning to the passage in Hebrews 12 about God’s discipline. I highly encourage you to read that whole chapter when you get a moment, it’s really powerful stuff to ruminate on. Here are the verses that are on a loop in my mind:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6 (ESV)
God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. And because of the fierceness of his love for us, he wants to deal with the sins we have allowed in our lives for far too long. He wants to irradicate the things in our minds and hearts that we have clung to that aren’t of him. God wants to free us from these sins that so easily entangle us.
God wants to heal our self-inflicted wounds.
The book of Revelation is another incredible book that I highly encourage you to read when you have a moment. I’ve never been one to gravitate toward that book, but reading it aloud and looking for Jesus in its words was one of the most life-giving things I did in 2020. I highly recommend it.
Here’s a mysterious and evocative passage that keeps coming to mind:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:1-2 (ESV)
The tail end of those verses, the fact that the tree of life has leaves for the healing of nations, has been on my heart and mind for months. As I have been praying for the church, interceding for the people of God, I have prayed again and again for those leaves to be like a balm on the wounds of the church throughout the nations. I can see these big, beautiful leaves being laid on injured body parts that are then healed completely.
The sad part is that whenever I picture that, I’m aware that healing won’t last because the body of Christ keeps wounding itself. We hurt each other and allow the wounds to become infected. We don’t have to look very far to realize that we are a deeply sick body. But Jesus is the remedy. He is the healing balm we need. He is the one who binds up our wounds and walks us through the process of restoration.
The process of healing is painful—this series will be painful. But I fully believe that God wants to purify his people. Let’s run to him, not away from him. Let’s lean into the discipline and the pain knowing that God loves us and wants us to be fully healed.
Repentance and humility are the way of the Kingdom. Let’s begin 2021, not with big plans for the year, but on our knees in reverence to God. Let’s bring the Kingdom of God to the earth this year through our willing submission to his loving discipline.
How do you see God’s discipline?
What role does repentance play in your life?