December 18, 2008
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, "Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:17
Disappointment and betrayal.
Those are heavy-duty words. They are made more so by the fact they were used in an ad run by General Motors Corporation. Please understand General Motors wasn't talking about how they had been disappointed and betrayed. No, this amazing General Motors ad said the company had occasionally disappointed and betrayed the American consumer with lackluster design and poor quality control.
Now, I don't know whether the confession is justified. I love my Buick. Still, that's not the point. The point is what General Motors said.
In the religious world, we call that a "confession." And you can take it from me or just about any pastor that hearing a good confession is just about as rare as observing a unicorn.
No, today it's more common to hear someone say, "I'm okay. You're okay. Everybody is pretty much okay."
In recent years, I've been amazed at the number of Christian pastors and priests who are telling their people that Jesus is a God of love (which He is), that Jesus will accept them (which He will) just the way they are, and without any changes being made in their old sinful selves.
This just isn't right.
Matthew tells us, "From that time Jesus began to preach, . . . 'repent.'" Jesus preached repentance, and He kept on preaching repentance. Yes, He loves humanity, and He wants all of humanity in the Kingdom of heaven. To save us is why Jesus was born, and it's why He suffered, died, and rose.
But it is a big mistake to think when we follow Jesus we can remain the same.
We can't. We are given a repentant heart, which says, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner."
And then, because the Lord is merciful and loving, we can be comforted by the knowledge that Jesus forgives and keeps and protects and saves us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for searching for me, living and dying and rising for me. May I, a forgiven sinner, praise You this Christmas and throughout my entire life. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries