Without heart-rending, gut-wrenching, fall-on-our-knees conviction of sin we can’t repent. Without the tender forgiving assurance that Jesus still wants us anyway, our confession plunges us into a mire of unresolved guilt and condemnation. It takes both truth and love to complete repentance. As truth exposes our sin, God’s love for us consumes it. We’re forgiven. We’re free.
I love how the intersection of truth and love played out when Jesus first called his disciples (Luke 5).
Jesus directed Peter to sail back out to sea and cast his nets again. The disciples had fished all night and come up empty. It seemed a futile task, but Peter obeyed. Although he respected Jesus enough to do what he said, he did not realize the immensity of who he was. That was about to change. The haul of fish proved so heavy the nets began to tear. And fishing nets weren’t the only thing being torn apart. The miracle revealed Jesus’ holiness and in its light, Peter was undone. His self-sufficiency began to unravel. Any illusion that he was a good man, maybe even better than most, began to crack. All he could do was fall on his knees and ask Jesus to leave. He wasn’t worthy of being in his presence. That was the truth part.
In the light of this earth-shattering revelation, how did Jesus respond? He told Peter not to be afraid. Even though Peter now realized Jesus knew everything about him…every dark corner…Jesus said I want you. I want to take your natural gifts and transform them into something for God. Don’t worry about cleaning yourself up to make yourself suitable. I’ll take care of it. That was the love part.
It was so powerful Peter, as well as the others, “left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). Truth and love working together qualified the first followers of Christ to lay the pattern for the rest of us. To help us not be afraid to repent. To see that when truth exposes our sins, his love will be there to complete the process.
And that’s the truth about repentance. Don’t miss it.