As I told you yesterday, I was having a dream and in it there was a discussion on how to minister appropriately to someone who is lost but whose life has been filled with tragic and difficult circumstances. How do you prioritize the benefit of having a relationship with Jesus Christ with them?
The discussion in the dream centered on what do we say to those who have faced tragic events in their lives? Do they get a ‘hardship’ pass? Are they condemned or consigned to their misery? Or, do we seriously call them to receive the gift of repentance?
Luke 13 teaches us that Jesus directs us towards the third choice. If we do not receive and open the gift of repentance, Jesus says, we shall all perish. We will all be lost. But, being lost is the easiest thing to remedy seeing that Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19: 10) Lost-ness is easy for Jesus to fix.
Bitterness? Selfishness? Stubbornness? Hardness of heart? Willful blindness? To these, Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9: 41)
Abiding in sin, stuck in sin, bogged down in sin, rooted to sin, yielded to sin – regardless of our intentions to the contrary – leaves us with a question. What do we do about it?
Jesus says all life is tragic because it demonstrates a horrible separation from the Father has occurred. The only remedy – and praise God there is a remedy – is we repent. The only remedy is not scapegoating ourselves or wearing the cloak of victimization. The only remedy is aligning ourselves to the sovereign God of the universe who, through his Son Jesus Christ, is offering to us all the fullness of grace and truth to apply to our lives. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5: 21)
What do we say to that person whose life is one hardship after another? We say the same thing Jesus said. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28) What do we say to the person who is scarred and marred by the circumstances of life? ‘If you knew the gift of God, if you knew Jesus’, “you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4: 10)
What do we say to those who know they are stuck? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9) What do we say to those searching for answers? “The time has come,” Jesus says, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The gift of repentance has been given. Open the gift and let’s live our lives not branded by our own tragedy and grief but transformed by the truth and grace that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!