Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Peace be with you!
Every time we turn our backs on our neighbors, we turn our backs to Jesus and say, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Every time we do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked, we turn our backs to Jesus and say “Crucify him, crucify him!” How can we be a part of the tight group of apostles when it was our voices that screamed, “Crucify him, crucify him!”? Our sin and our sinful world turn us away from Jesus each and every day.
We know the guilt the Jews are feeling. Recently I heard the song “Car Radio” by Twenty One Pilots. The song struck me, because it talks about what happens when we have to sit in silence (as the singer does when his car radio is stolen)—we have to fill the void with unwanted thoughts of the past. We can plug our earphones in and drown out the people around us. Even without earphones, the world provides enough noise to keep the unwanted thoughts away—[whatever “it” is] in our past that we try to keep secret. In “Car Radio,” the singer says:
Sometimes quiet is violent
I find it hard to hide it
My pride is no longer inside
It’s on my sleeve
My skin will scream
Reminding me of
Who I killed inside my dream. (1)
The noise of Holy Week has now become silence. Jesus has risen from the grave, spent time with his disciples, and ascended into the Kingdom of God. The events of Holy Week fulfilled what was supposed to happen in order to give God glory. However, the good news does not ease the priests’ minds. The Jewish leaders know that Jesus’ blood is on their hands. How can these leaders even think about entering God’s Kingdom? There is no way they enter the Kingdom of God, right?
We have all probably had times when we thought we were not worthy to enter the Kingdom of God. What were these times for you? Maybe you betrayed a dear friend or a family member. Maybe you caused physical harm to someone. Maybe you have helped the devil one too many times. My silence causes me to think about the six years I spent with my ex—and the people I turned my back on to avoid making him upset and the fights I had with my parents. The dangerous thoughts come when I start asking myself, what if I had found Nathan, my childhood friend and boyfriend, sooner? Where would I be if…?
What thoughts hang in the darkness of your silence? Do you feel shut out from God when you face those thoughts?
Peter has good news for all of us who reject Christ in one way or another. We can repent of our sins and be baptized. The church uses these words so often that we forget what it means to repent and to be baptized. Repentance means to reorient our lives to be more like Christ by changing our minds and lifestyles. It means to feel remorse for turning our backs on Jesus and our neighbors. However, once we repent, we are welcomed into the Christian community and given entrance into the Kingdom of God. We are freed from our past mistakes.
When we repent, we can be baptized into God’s family. Baptism is the respond to hearing the good news for the first time and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Our sins are washed away, and we are marked with a cross forever. You become a living member of Jesus Christ and are given a new life.
Once we repent and are baptized, we are given a game changer: God the Father forgives us for your sins and gives us the Holy Spirit to be with us in the world. Plus it is for all people—not just the Jews but the Gentiles. Everyone is included in God’s plan and invited to be a part of the Christian community. God believes in inclusion, not exclusion. We engage in exclusion only for our own benefit. God loves us so deeply that he used our sin—the sin that nailed Jesus to cross to ultimately conquer death.
Forgiveness is truly the greatest gift. When my parents divorced, I remember being angry at my mom for months. I would hardly talk to her and did not want to be around her. Then one day we talked about what was going on between her and my dad, and I understood the divorce was not up to me to solve. My mom forgave me, and I released my anger. Forgiveness flowed both directions.
I also love being led by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I swear the Holy Spirit writes these devotions, because I find my words flowing so easily. The Holy Spirit has a way of using my ideas and thoughts to get God’s point across. If God left me to my own devices, I would not be writing these devotions, but here I am.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for allowing us to repent and be baptized. Help us to accept the forgiveness you offer us, even when we are messy and broken. Through your Holy Spirit, lead us through life’s challenges. Remind us to be mindful of your plan. Thank you for the game changer of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Sit in silence and do nothing for five minutes. What were you forced to think about?
- What does repentance mean to you?
- How has the Holy Spirit led you?