DAY 2 – CHANGE CONTINUALLY
Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Acts 3:19–20, ESV
The New Testament meaning for the word repent means to change your mind. It means that you need to change the way you think about sin. We are to take our sin to God, turn away from it, and turn towards God. Repentance is about contrition, feeling remorse over the sin that’s been committed. Sin is any offense to God that violates his laws and decrees. Sins can be committed by what we do, or don’t do. These are sins of commission (what we do) or omission (what we should have done, but didn’t). For example, sins of commission include things like lying or stealing. Sins of omission would be not speaking up about someone who lied or stole something when you should have. We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). We all have been infected and affected by sin.
BORN RACIST OR TAUGHT RACIST?
Many have said that we are taught racism, not born this way. The Bible says that we are born with sin. Racism is sin. So let’s define racism. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it means “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” This kind of behavior is consistently labeled as sinful behavior and antithetical to biblical ethics.
St. Augustine, the North African Bishop of ancient church history, taught what conservative and orthodox Christians, both protestants and Catholics hold to as the doctrine of original sin. This is the idea that all people are born into sin. As David says in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin effects literally every part of our being: our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical personhood. We are in a sense infected with the virus of sin; it is deadly and manifests itself in division, racial hatred, bigotry, and violence.
While many well-meaning white Americans are not guilty of this, we are all are guilty of sin, and perhaps all need to consider whether we need some change in our minds or hearts. Maybe we have failed to listen and learn from our black brothers and sisters. Maybe we have failed to call them when a tragedy happens in our society within the black community. Maybe we have failed to do something and are guilty of the sins of omission (not doing something when we should have). While we may not be born a racist, we are born with sin, and sin has damaging effect on all of our being, apart from the continual need for change by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. As the Apostle Paul says, we need to renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:23), i.e. we need to change our mindsets. We need at times to reprogram our thinking or get out of a certain way of thinking.
REPENTANCE AND THE REFRESHING LAKE
We need to experience mental transformation (Romans 12:2). This requires times of reflection and repentance. This means change: change in the way we think and do things. Evaluate your heart, your mind. Ask the Lord, what needs to change? In doing so, the Lord promises a time of refreshing! Refreshment to the soul. As Christians, we are people who need to continually change for the good and God’s glory. Ask the Lord what you need to repent of, and experience his refreshing power in your life.
It’s like imagine you’ve done a mud run in the summer heat. You’re filthy, dirty, and you’ve come to the finish line. There’s a big lake at the end that’s calling your name. You jump in. It cleans you, refreshes you, and cools you down. Repentance is similar. When our spiritual being is dirty, we need to be cleansed. The lake is God’s grace. It cleanses us and refreshes us. Don’t go too long this summer without being refreshed. As Martin Luther taught, there is hardly an hour or day that goes by that we don’t sin against God in one way or another. God is calling us to be refreshed. Let us evaluate where we have room to grow in racial unity.