Our family is safe and doing well. However, our city and extended community of friends has been affected by Sunday’s massacre in Orlando.
The violence, deaths and aftermath are huge reminders that sin is the root cause and Jesus is the only cure.
Our daughter Avery has been taking a few classes at the local community college. This summer she also landed a part time job there. We were saddened to learn that, of the 49 people who died at the Pulse nightclub, 8 of them were students at the community college. Avery did not know them personally. But it hits home.
Recently I read Acts 11 and this verse stood out to me:
Acts 11:18 NLT “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” The NASB says it this way: “God granted to the Gentiles repentance that leads to life.”
Why is it a privilege to repent? And what significance is it that God grants or gives a gift of repentance to people?
Jesus’ ministry on earth began with John the Baptist loudly calling people to repent. Repentance is a sincere turning away from sin. If sin is not so bad, it sounds silly to repent. But sin is exactly what the Bible describes it to be: it is truly bad, truly dark, denying that God is Holy, rejecting the perfection of His goodness to us. “Small sins” may seem harmless at first, but I inspect my own heart and find that even a spoonful of jealous hatred can snowball into a heinous act. Without repentance, sin totally owns us all.
When someone sincerely repents, they not only turn away from sin, but they also turn to God. Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.”
Is repentance a privilege? Yes. Yes, for many reasons, especially when you consider that no sinner deserves anything from God. He owes us nothing. In His eyes, any amount of sin is enough to cause an eternal, solid wall to separate us from Him. Yet, because the sinless Jesus was punished and died for sins, that wall can be torn down. And it gets even better. Through faith in Jesus, my penalty for sin can be thrown away as far as the east is from the west.
I’m privileged only because Jesus first paid for me and loved me – long before I repented. It is a privilege to be able to turn away from sin. You could say it is a miracle this is even possible. Living a life dominated by sin surely leads to death. Anything better than this type of sin-saturated life (death) would be better. But Jesus gives us something so much better than we deserve.
Getting back to Acts 11, the apostle Peter realized that God granted (allowed and gifted) Gentiles as well as Jews the privilege of repentance. This is significant because it demonstrated to the early Christians that no race, no gender, no social class, no religious background, no merit or achievement, no status symbol in life, is a credit or a limitation towards repentance that leads to abundant and eternal life. Good news for me. I as a Christian and as someone who has appeared as a religious achiever for a long time desperately need the repenting privilege. Everyone needs it desperately. Everyone can receive it completely and joyfully.
Please know that Cru is committed to sharing this message of repentance as well as serving all people of Orlando with simple acts of love and kindness. On our Facebook page, you can see some ways we are praying for and reaching out to Orlando. Cru is a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ. Thank you so much for praying for us and supporting us!