Charles Battle- Administrative Council Chair
Earlier this Lenten season, I shared a devotional about listening for God’s call. Today, the question is how to respond if you were successful in unplugging long enough to hear it. If we turned to some old marketing folks from Nike, we’d probably hear “Just do it”. If we turned to scripture, we might find something almost as simple but significantly more demanding.
In Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist calls for repentance from those who have come to the wilderness to be baptized. In verse 8, he adds a qualifier, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance”. In other words, repentance requires not only an expression of regret but also a commitment to change.
Some of you may have heard Jim Sampson tell this one: “A Methodist preacher starts his sermon with a question: “How many Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?” “CHANGE!” moaned the congregation. ‘” We don’t like change. We don’t like it in our institutions and we particularly don’t like it when it intrudes into our personal lives. That’s true even when we know we need to change—when we know we do too little of this and too much of that. Change brings along uncertainty and uncertainty brings more anxiety—who needs more of those things?
Luke’s Gospel has a longer version of the John the Baptist story. In Luke 3:10, the crowds who have come to be baptized respond to his call for repentance by asking, “What then should we do?” John replies, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise”.
Sometimes the simplest and clearest scripture is the hardest for us to follow. John’s example of bearing fruit worthy of repentance uses the word “must,” not “should.” Lent is a time for self-examination. Do we have what it takes to make a commitment to change?
Prayer: Ask God to show you what you need to change in your life, so that you may bear fruit for God.