Some Sinners Left Behind

 
 S (Scripture): Revelation 9:20 The rest of humanity, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk about. 21 Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing.

O (Observation):  So some freaky angels are set free to kill 1/3 of humanity. Then, 200 million scary horses with their riders came out and killed another 1/3.  The last 1/3 showed no signs of remorse of their idol worship.  

This “woe” had no affect on the remaining 1/3 of humanity. 

A (Application):  Who do the Angels represent today?  I don’t care. 

Who do the 200 million horsemen represent today?  That matters not to me. 

Why?  If all of this were to come to pass…I would have no say in their coming.   And we can only brig conjecture to the table.  And even if we DID get it right, that’s not the point!!!!   The point?   Just follow me here…

Here is what I do care about:  repentance.  These 1/3 remaining are said to have been non-repentant, even in the face of these consequences of their actions.  

I have a hard time reconciling God allowing this type of destruction.   We hear Jesus (in the Gospels) speaking of wailing and gnashing of teeth.  We assume a warning would have influence.  But we also know that God  was remorseful after the flood in Genesis.   Something doesn’t fit. 

Back to my takeaway: repentance.  I hope to be vigilant in my Obedience to Jesus Christ.  But I know that my Obedience is only a direct reflection of my Identity as a child of God.   I am claimed by a God who is ALWAYS in a posture of welcoming me…despite the grim picture painted by God (through John of Patmos) this day. 

Repentance and Forgiveness are a daily cycle for me, and I hope for you, too!   We are in a church in which Confession and Forgiveness are a part of our weekly rhythms. We corporately confess of our sins and receive absolution.  That’s an important recognition of our frailty and of our God who is always welcoming us in.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, keep us focused on being repentant and relying solely on you – day in and day out.  Amen.  

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Confession and Forgiveness 

  

S (Scripture): 1 John 1:8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.

O (Observation): John writes about the fact that part of being a believer is to recognize our shortcomings.  We sin.  Plain and simple.  We are to walk in the light, but we cannot let that walk blind us to the fact that we still have this flesh that hangs around our neck.  

A (Application): Our walk is one of sainthood and peccator-hood. (Peccator = Sinner, in Latin) 

These words from 1 John 1 are extremely familiar to Lutherans.  These were the standard words spoken between the worship leader and the congregation during the portion of worship we call “Confession & Forgiveness.”

As I was growing up, acknowledging our sinfulness and receiving absolution of those sins as God’s people together was extremely formative for me.  We opened every worship service with the recognition from 1 John, that we are sinners and cannot free ourselves.  Then, typically the pastor would acknowledge our repentance in a corporate way and declare God’s forgiveness of our sins as a corporate act.  

One body.  Repentant.  Forgiven.  An act that has shaped me for almost 4 decades now.   I hope that never goes away. 

Have you ever had someone declare you forgiven of all your sins?   Did that feel true to you?  Did it feel like empty words?  Why?

For a film that deals with the real-life struggles with confession and forgiveness, check out the movie Get Low, starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek.   A friend of mine, Scott Seeke, co-wrote the screenplay, and wrote the follow-up book, Uncle Bush’s Live Funeral.

Click here to join me and Advent Lutheran Church for the book club event with author Scott Seeke, as we discuss “Uncle Bush’s Live Funeral” on Dec. 14, 2015.  

P (Prayer):  Forgiving God, keep our hearts pure and repentant.  Give us a posture of humility. Amen.