I help lead a home meeting for Liberti Church: Center City. In these home meetings we usually further discuss the sermon from Sunday and try and see what bearing it might have on our everyday life. As most everyone knows, I have started my new job now and had to work last night so I wasn’t able to attend the home group. So, I thought I’d write out my thoughts here.
This post is mainly trying to place this past week’s message in the broader context of our current series “Lent For Everyone”. The first week, we looked at Jesus’ temptations in the desert to show us how we are meant to live life here and now in the “desert” of history — after our freedom from slavery but before the Promised Land (Audio). The second week of Lent Jared preached on how the God of Christianity is unlike any other god we make, because of his Covenantal character, and how He does not demand that we bound ourselves to Him, but rather He commits Himself to us (Audio). This past week we heard God in Isaiah 55:1-9 invite us toward the gift of repentance, and in that find life (Audio). Next week, he will talk about the celebration this God is actually inviting to take part in (Audio), and in the final week, he will talk about who this King is that has been with us all along (Audio). In our home meeting, we’ve been talking about these ideas and how our sins reveal the true nature of our hearts.
When we sin, we are revealing and expressing a wrong belief our hearts have about about God (regardless of where our intellect is in all this). And (to make matters worse), the trust that our hearts are withholding from God in those moments is actually being given to other things that are not God. This is because we are by nature worshipers. We will worship something as good, sovereign, loving, affirming, strong, and secure. If it’s not God (as revealed by our sins), then it will be something else.
Here’s a very simple example: I get super angry at traffic. Something in me is not believing that God is sovereign even over that time. Instead, I am believing that I am the one that is sovereign and it is MY sovereignty that is being frustrated in that moment. Every other car around me is, in effect, “sinning” against my “divine self” so I get angry and prepare to pour out my “just wrath” on them in my heart. The belief: God is not sovereign. I am (or at least deserve to be).
These things that we put that kind of trust in are called idols.
Where are these idols? The desert; here in this time between past and future. How do we fight them? By trusting that we are who Christ has purchased us to be. How do we know we can trust this? His covenantal nature. He has bound himself to us in a shocking way so that we might know who He is so we can trust who we are so we don’t have to listen to the whispers of the idols all around us. And these idols, at all times, are whispering their own invitations to spend resources we do not have to seek life where there is none to find.
Here in this week’s text (Isaiah 55:1-9) we find not only a God who invites us, but a God who doggedly pursues and has given us every resource to hear Him, know Him, and come to Him. We see that the response He demands of us is simple and consistent: hear and come. All through the chapter are variations of those two themes.
And in order to come after hearing we must trust what we have heard. This is what my old pastor calls “intelligent repentance”. Repentance is not just saying “oh that’s bad, I need to stop.” It’s doing the deep heart work of figuring out what these idols are whispering to us–what are the nature of their invitations; and (even more importantly) why do we actually end up responding to them? Repentance is inclining our ear to what God has said about Himself, His Son, His people, and His world and bringing ourselves, by faith, in line with who we truly are. Trusting He is Who He says He is, trusting we are who He says we are.
Read the entire chapter 55 of Isaiah. After the nine verses of our text this week are some of the most beautiful promises in Scripture: God’s word is faithful. It is effectual. It has a purpose. It accomplishes that purpose. It brings joy. It brings worship. It causes fruit to be borne and a name for God to be made in us. And lastly, it is an everlasting sign that God speaks to us as His people, and His people will not be cut off. And so we can trust. We can rest. We can run. We can incline our ear and come to our Father freely and purely. Not because of what we’ve done or realized, but because of who He is.
So let’s learn to recognize those seductive whispers of the idols that steal our joy from God. Learn the whispers and forsake those things–even good things–that rob our deepest longings for God. Let’s learn these whispers well; not just for ourselves, but so that we can help others know them also. It is part of our privilege as Christians to expose how our brothers and sisters are not trusting some part of who God is and help them see the idols that they are trusting. It’s messy. It hurts. But it leads to freedom and rest. So, “let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11)
In other words, let us repent.
Have a good week, Home Group. I love you and am praying for you all.