Bringing Symbols of Repentance

[Kevin Vance is husband to Lisa, and father to Kelly, Caleb, and Carissa.  Formerly the president of Western Christian, Kevin is now leading the Gentle Road Church of Christ in north-central Regina.]

Please begin by watching this video…

It is of a man named Lowell who gets baptized.  As a symbol of his repentance, he brings the Merck Index, a pharmaceutical manual containing the chemical composition of drugs.  His confession was, that he thought he could use it to control the people around him, get rich, and have everything he ever wanted.  Instead, it turned out to be a disaster.

In Luke 3:1-6, John the Baptist came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  Repentance is key to entering into the kingdom.  Without it, we are like seven-foot giants going into the ball pit at McDonalds.  There is a reason there is a height limitation for these play areas.  Kids (or adults!) who are too big wreck it for those who are small enough to be in there.

In the same way, repentance is the necessary, and logical, requirement to enter the kingdom.  Unless I let go of all the idols that I cling to, unless I acknowledge that I cannot rule my own life, Jesus Christ cannot be Lord over my life.  It is only when I humble myself and acknowledge my need for him, that I can enter into the kingdom of God – that “ball pit” where people with no egos and no idols can play.  Yes, “The kingdom of God is like a ball pit at McDonald’s…” because as long as we are clinging to possessions, pride, the Merck index, or anything else the world offers, we simply cannot pick up the balls in the pit and play with them.  We cannot enjoy, or submit to, Christ’s rule in our lives, when our hands are full of our own stuff.

In this text, Luke carefully identifies the political and religious leaders of the time.  The indirect reference to the political power of Rome and the religious power in Jerusalem represents the sophistications and corruptions of worldly power.   Significantly, the word of the LORD did not come there, but very simply, and unadorned, came to John in the wilderness.  No pomp and ceremony, no red carpet, no marketing hype, no handler and no media releases.  The word of the Lord came to John simply, beautifully, in its purest form.   “The King is coming, prepare the way!  Do whatever it takes to make the road straight, level and beautiful.”

When we lived in Red Deer several years ago, the Queen came to visit.  The City allocated some $50,000 to beautify the few streets she was to travel.  Every tree was trimmed, every flower bed was turned, every blade of grass was cut, the crosswalks were freshly painted.  No stone was left unturned.  Royalty came to our city, and the royal route was impressive!

What an amazing thought… to think that the way we beautify the route for The King of the Universe to come into our lives, is to repent, lay down our idols, and humbly bow at his feet.  Truly, we are then fit to enter the kingdom.  And in his eyes, the road to our hearts will be the most beautiful that we could ever make it!

What symbols of repentance will you bring Him this Advent?

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