Repentance — God’s Appeal to the Christians for the Sake of Their Nation and Its Well-being
“Repent!” – who hears this call? It is as though Jesus is passing through the nations and the Christian churches today, knocking at the hearts of individuals and calling with a loud voice, waiting for someone to hear. This call is meant first for the family of God and not the world, since judgment will begin with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). But the question is, “Do we even realize it when God chastens and judges us?” If we did, we would respond by repenting, by repenting ever anew and turning from our sinful ways. For when God judges, He is waiting for a response; He is waiting for our repentance. It is not a matter of waiting only for unbelievers to repent, as a result of evangelizations, for instance — although we should also make this a real concern of prayer. No, today it is of vital importance that the family of God repent.
Come, O Spirit of Repentance
Like a stormwind force an entrance,
Break and built my heart again.
O tear away the pious fences,
Break down all my vain pretenses,
Humble me, then make me true and strong.
Instead of repenting however we demand that God adjusts to our modern concepts. Because the spirit of contrition and repentance is missing, Church services often lack power and cannot move the listeners to tears. How very much we, the Body of Christ, have hardened our hearts! We no longer want to see sin for what it is. When God is dishonored and blasphemed and His commandments are abandoned, we do not regard it as such… These are the signs of the times that Jesus said we should watch for. By going along with the crowd or apathetically tolerating the rebellion that has broken out against God and His commandments, we are actually furthering the advance of the powers of darkness in the end times.
The increasing lawlessness and the fact that love has grown cold — signs that Jesus specifically named for the end times (Matthew 24:12) — are often put aside by the Church as being of no great importance, although the unprecedented facts and examples are alarming. We need but call to mind certain trends in the past years. The soaring crime rate. The glorification of brutality and perverse forms of sex. The increase in drugs, which have already claimed millions of addicts. The alarming growth of involvement in occult activities, in spiritism and even satanic cults.
And all this is taking place in “Christian” nations, yes, mainly in these countries, and even in their churches… Who takes this as a challenge to pray, fast and repent? Nineveh, a pagan city, was prophesied destruction if it did not repent. But the people did repent, and this repentance saved them. How much more so should there be repentance today in Christian circles, fasting and prayer, so that a terrible judgment would not descend upon us for our great iniquity!
Today the words of Joel are applicable: “Blow the trumpet… sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly” (Joel 2:15 RSV). Out of love for Jesus, who is filled with compassion when He sees mankind on the brink of destruction, and out of love for our fellow-beings let us “snatch them out of the fire” (cf. Jude v. 23 RSV). In this case a traditional type of prayer will not suffice. It is essential to pray with fervent entreaties and tears, “Lord, spare Your people and do not deliver them up to their shame. Do not let Your New Testament people continue to honor false gods and deny and dishonor You, so that the nations and non-Christians sneer, ‘Where is your God now?’” Long ago the servants of the Lord and the people repented; they began to weep and pray. And God’s answer was, “Then the Lord’s love burned with zeal for his land, and he was moved with compassion for his people” (Joel 2:18 NEB). Let us not keep God waiting in vain for our entreaties and prayers. Today too God wants to act according to His word, “Amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will repent of the evil which he has pronounced against you” (Jeremiah 26:13 RSV).
And so repentance is the sole foundation upon which everything in the kingdom of God is to be built. Then our spiritual “house” will have a firm foundation and it will not be swept away when a storm comes. All our service in the kingdom of God that is not built upon contrition and repentance will not be of eternal duration. It will not bring true fruit. O that repentance would once more be a gift we would covet for ourselves personally and for our churches! It contains the greatest blessing and grace for us all.
Taken from “Repentance—the Joy-Filled Life” by Basilea Schlink