2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Among the qualities that many people like about Jesus is the fact that He didn't get carried away by the glitz and glitter of popularity.
According to the common and more prevalent thinking, Jesus is a kindly character, a Mr. Rogers kind of guy: always supportive, never negative, never judgmental, and certainly never rebuking, reprimanding, or reproaching. That's the kind of Jesus people like -- a Jesus who accepts them just the way they are.
If that is the Jesus you know, I'd like you to hear these words taken from the first chapter of Mark.
Mark wrote, "Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.'"
Did you get that? Probably not. Those are a lot of words, and I said them pretty fast. Here, let me shorten it up a bit: Jesus came saying, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." If you're listening to this devotion with half an ear, or reading with just one eye, I can almost see you sit up a little straighter. Your face has an expression which says, "I'm not sure if I heard Him right."
Well, you heard correctly. Jesus said we should repent.
Shocked? Quite probably.
Nowadays people hear all kinds of Christian sermons, messages, and devotions about believing. But listen as much or as long as you like, there won't be many sermons, messages, and devotions about repentance. Do you wonder why?
Easy, because people don't want to hear sermons about repentance, and many preachers aren't overly eager to preach about it. These men of the cloth know that most people like to think of Jesus as a person who is committed -- even obligated -- to taking all of us ... just the way we are.
Right now, if I listen carefully, I can almost hear people stutteringly say, "But ... but ... doesn't Jesus take me the way I am? Won't He accept me the way I am?" And the answer is Yes! -- absolutely, positively, unequivocally, yes!
Jesus took the lepers and the lame the way they were; He took the cripple and the crucified criminal the way they were. Jesus took the publican and the prostitute, the sinner, the slave, and those troubled in spirit, the way they were. Throughout history there has never been anyone so sad and sorry, so pitiful and pathetic, that Jesus will not accept him.
Yes, Jesus accepts sinners, and then ... and then He changes them.
My friend, believe it. Jesus will accept you the way you are, but He will not leave you the way you were. As I read through Scripture, the truth of that statement is proven in one changed-life story after another. Read through Scripture, take a look. God's people are changed people, and they are glad of it. They are glad because, with faith in Jesus, the old is gone and the new has come.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. This I ask, and give thanks for, in the Name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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