Pr. Jaynan Clark
29 February 2012
Perhaps the awareness of a need to repent and be “cleaned up” went out with the baby. The dirty wash water of baptism seems less important when sin as a reality of our fallen nature as God’s wandering, lost children—was thrown out by much of the church for all kinds of reasons. Confession of sin? Absolution? Repentance on bended knee? Come on -- this is the 21st century and we are enlightened and have outgrown such nonsense. We are a feel good multi-generational people who swallowed the pill of optimism to the point of denying our very nature “as it is written.”
We are too smart, too advanced, too self sufficient, too independent to ever admit weakness, dependence, fault or failure. We are savvy and accomplished and not responsible for anything that may result from our own bad behavior or choices because we are inherently “good” and are “getting better” and so don’t bore me or bring me down with any talk of “sin.” Don’t try to convince me I’m a “sinner” because I have out-grown that. Don’t preach to me about my neighbor in need because my needs are paramount. Don’t tell me that anything or anybody has authority over me for I reign supreme as an individual in control of my life. “I know my truth” and you are entitled to yours as long as I decide it is “tolerable” or “acceptable” to me. I am “god”.
This is post-modernism as we now live it. Every day the bad news reported by the news anchors witnesses to the reality that we live in an advancing state of anarchy, that has pulled up its anchor in the faith and is daily pursuing a society founded on the “amoral.” This is what tolerance and acceptance of the intolerable and unacceptable breeds. God help us all!
When the church decided to stroke the weak egos of the gathered and to ignore the reality of sin and fallenness to the extent of no longer confessing it, absolving it or even teaching and preaching about it we threw out the waters of baptism with the baby Jesus Himself. He died to save you from yourself not for yourself and if you are just great without Him then why the cross? Why a savior? No need for either.
The denial of the need for repentance and forgiveness these days is probably nothing new for God’s fallen children. John the Baptizer and the prophets before him and even Jesus Himself were not celebrated for their bellowing of the word “Repent!” Heads rolled … bodies were hung on the cross. Preach it today and watch the exit doors swing out.
Today’s denial of any need for cleansing and forgiveness seems so in our faces as our “boundary less” America comes unglued. Perhaps the denial of our fallen nature came out of the closet along with all other kinds of once private now public sins. Behaviors once confessed, are now celebrated.
In the day to day grind of living out ones "vocation" in this unnatural world of our own making, the need for daily repentance and a life-giving forgiveness becomes real and not just a catch phrase of "daily dying to the self" that righteous people talk about but perhaps rarely practice on their knees in the quiet of their own shelter. I know this better now as a janitor than I did as a full time pastor.
Cleaning up others' messes 7 nights a week as a janitor of a 43K foot building has instilled in me the absolute nature of this cleansing by Jesus of his wandering little lambs. The mess is apparent; denying it does not make it go away. It needs to be cleaned. Once done, it is beautiful, inspirational and gives a sense of accomplishment to look back on it. Next day … filthy all over, again and again. This is not bad news or depressing at all …this is a witness to what your Lord does for you every day. He doesn't quit or give up or decide it just isn't worth it because it will just be dirty again but rather He returns to the task constantly because it is what He does and who He is and whose you are.
Repent! Know yourself as He knows you … you are a sinner of His own redeeming, whether you admit it or not; however, confession is good for the soul!