Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Then What Fruits of Repentance Luke 3:7-15

Bold preachers sometimes jump into the collective imagination of people in their day. John was that kind of preacher. He could grab attention and people wanted more. His words weren't saccharine sweet, and people still wanted to hear. The truth he spoke often hurt before it healed. He spoke to the soul of his nation. Any person who would listen could hear him speak of the world from heaven's perspective.

John, sometimes called the baptist and sometimes called the forerunner, stepped into the collective imagination of the people of Israel 2000 years ago preaching a dynamic vision of God's kingdom.

John's preaching pulled people in to hear about the kingdom. Crowds came out to the wilderness to hear the news. The kingdom is close. Get ready one greater still is coming. Crowds came to hear and they wouldn't leave the same as they came. Leave the old behind: repent. John's powerful message echos in the church in the weeks before a Christmas celebration. Come welcome the new kingdom and the new king. And that means repenting.

John's words dug in deep and hard ποιήσατε οὐ̂ν καρποὺς ἀξίους τη̂ς μετανοίας
ποιήσατε οὐ̂ν poisate produce/bear
καρποὺς karpous fruit
ἀξίους τη̂ς axeous worthy of
μετανοίας metanoias your turning around/repenting.

John's word were intentional. He's inviting change in direction. Turn towards God, that's John's kind of repentance. John's call for μετάνοια metanoia repentance is a call not just a move in the heart or in the exterior life. John's inviting a 180-degree whole being turn back to God. He calls for lives that bear fruit of the turning back to God. William Willimon wrote wisely

The repentance John calls us to is no mere change of mind and heart. It is a total metanoia, a complete turning around from self to God. More than an emotional "feeling sorry for my sins," repentance is the fitting response to the presence of the Kingdom, the only way left now that our God has come, the necessary choice between self-salvation and God's salvation. Here is a costly Kingdom. John pays for his preaching with his head; we may come to the river singing "Just as I Am," but we will not leave these waters without having participated in a painful, deadly, costly work.
Willimon, William H. "What then shall we do." The Christian Century 99, no. 39 (December 8, 1982): 1246-1247. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed December 7, 2015).
John preached and the crowd asked collectively, Then what??? and the responses he gave were simple and specific. Share clothes and food with those who have none. The tax collectors and soldiers, people everybody else thought were sinners came to hear John too. When they asked, What should we do?, John's words turned very practical. Tax collectors, take no more than ordered. Soldiers don’t extort or lie. John would likely have very practical words for each of us too. Turn to God, care for the poor, live just lives. This year as Christmas nears I hope to remember that God's kingdom is always breaking in among us. And we are blessed to turn towards God and bear fruit in our lives.
Peace and thanks for reading, John.

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