This is the 5th in a series of devotions. For an explanation of the project CLICK HERE
Suggested Scripture Reading – John 3:1-21
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:17-18
Our World Belongs to God – Preamble Article 5
God holds this world
with fierce love.
Keeping his promise,
he sends Jesus into the world,
pours out the Holy Spirit,
and announces the good news:
sinners who repent and believe in Jesus
live anew as members of the family of God—
the firstfruits of a new creation.
Humans are inconsistent. A person may claim to love the environment and then go on to describe how they took a long Sunday afternoon drive in their SUV to see the beautiful colors of the changing autumn leaves. A person may believe that stealing is wrong, but yet will waste time surfing the internet at work. A person can claim that men and women are equals but still think nothing about sharing a joke that degrades a member of the opposite sex. It might be argued that the one consistent thing about humans is that they are inconsistent. And over and over we all try to justify our inconsistencies about the environment, money, time and yes even God.
This self-justifying human nature in which we don’t want to be found out for how inconsistent we are is why the word “repent” can strike some as offensive. To repent is “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.” And if I’m admitting regret, remorse or wrongdoing it is acknowledging that there is a right or better way. Such admission or repentance need not require a person to believe in God. One could contend that repentance should be a hallmark of all humans not because it’s a step in a particular direction of a belief system but because it puts all of us in a posture of humility where we stop making ourselves the centre of the universe. Such a position is good for any society.
But if we can reach some healthy state of repentance in which we recognize our inconsistency it behoves us to then consider what the right or better way would be. The fifth article of Our World Belongs to God ties repentance with belief in Jesus. Certainly a lot can be said about Jesus (and will be said in due time within this series of devotions), but in simplicity we might say that Jesus is the counter balance to human inconsistency. And belief in Jesus is not just some cheap Christian formula that allows us to feel ok about our inconsistencies. Belief in Jesus is not like taking out insurance on the off chance that if things go wrong I’ll be covered. Belief in Jesus is living into the humility of repentance and an acknowledgement that we get on day by day because of God’s fierce love. The Bible is a description of a God who is at work making all things new and Jesus defines a Godly way of consistent self-sacrificing love in an inconsistent world.
And when the article describes those who live into such beliefs as “firstfruits of a new creation” it gives us an agricultural image to hold on to. When I was growing up on a potato farm, the first day when the harvesters started digging up the new potatoes was a day of promise. There was an air of excitement and a joy of discovery as everyone showed up in the field willing to take on any role needed in order to get the first tubers out of the ground. Yes, it was the first day of months of hard work, but the first potatoes out of the ground always contained the fullness of what was to come.
When we take a posture of repentance and live into the way of Jesus, we carry the same possibility as the opening day of harvest. In repentance and in Jesus we carry the possibility of something much more consistent than ourselves. Thanks be to God.
God of the harvest, we know we are fickle and inconsistent, but we also know that by your spirit you consistently produce surprising fruit through us and in us. Show us again today what you can do. Amen.