I was reminded in my Lent devotion this morning (Journey to the Cross) of the importance of community when it comes to repentance. Repentance is one of those words that we often do not like to hear because it implies wrongdoing on our part. When we do realize that repentance is required, most of us want to keep it in isolation and make it a very private matter between us and God. There is nothing wrong with private repentance, and in fact should be dealt with as a personal matter between you and God. After all, repentance is a change of mind; a turning away from sin and toward God. However, being in community with others brings great benefits in the area of repentance that leads to genuine spiritual growth.
1. Community reveals blind spots.
We all have blind spots from time to time that need to be pointed out. I’m reminded of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12 who said (paraphrasing) that “I thank you God that I’m not like other men who sin all the time because I pay my tithes and fast.” One of the greatest sins is thinking that we are more righteous than we are. This is a blind spot. We need others in our lives who can lovingly help us see things in our lives that we can’t see for ourselves.
2. Community neutralizes the enemy.
In community we can share our struggles and talk about temptations and sin. We need a place where we can share how our brokenness is causing us to look for joy, worth, and peace in things outside of God. When these areas of our lives are brought from the darkness of our hearts into the light, we neutralize the enemy’s strategy to isolate and torment us. Two can stand together stronger than one. James 5:16 says “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”
The point of repentance in the context of community is not so we can judge or condemn others; and, it’s not so that we can find someone who will tell us it’s okay and condone our sin. It’s also not to ask or expect everyone to fix our problems. The point of repentance in the context of community is so that we can weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, and pray for one another in our struggles. When we are able to find repentance in the context of community, then we will experience genuine times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.
Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s grace and mercy through repentance. Get into a community of believers that love God and love others. You will find the grace of God being administered by the Holy Spirit through the body of believers.
Comments are welcome.