Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Ahead

I hope this is not pre-mature, but the signs of spring are in the air. This Sunday we will set our clocks forward one hour. The temperature is starting to nose its way north. And with the rise in temperature comes a rise in spring cleaning projects. All the staleness and stuffiness of winter is chased, as we open the windows and get out the buckets of Mr. Clean.

This season of Lent is similar. It is an opportunity to “open the windows” of our hearts and let the fresh breezes of the Gospel blow through, chasing away the staleness and stuffiness that inevitably collects. I love the psalmist in Psalm 139 where he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (vv. 23, 24). This is a spring cleaning type prayer, an honest invitation to allow God to “clean house” in our soul.

Thanks be to God that because of his graciousness we can pray this prayer in the confidence that God meets us in his grace, despite the ugliness that we inevitably find while cleaning. Now, it is important to note that spring cleaning repentance is not to be confused with penance. Penance is an approach to God wherein we come with our spiritual tails between our legs hoping that we can show enough sorrow for our sin or generate enough change in our lives that God will love us. This is in contrast to the Lenten, spring cleaning repentance which is something that we are invited to because God has declared his love to his people in Christ. The cross is a real, completed event. The tomb stands empty and we are full of hope, not in ourselves, never in ourselves; but in that finished work of our sweet Savior, Jesus. There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). So get down on your knees, throw open the heart-windows, and let the Spirit breezes blow through!

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