Father Forgive Me
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us."
~ I John 1:8-10
A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine shared a prayer on social media which has stuck with me in a unique way: Father, forgive me for the times I have desired a seat at a table you would’ve flipped.
Not familiar with the story? Allow me to sum up for you. Referenced in both Matthew 21 and John 2, Jesus enters the temple courts to find people selling animals for sacrifice as well as tables for money changers set up. Jesus isn’t happy with this for several reasons. First, a sacrifice was supposed to come from a person’s own animals, not something randomly purchased as almost an afterthought in going to the temple to worship. There was no personal connection to the sacrifice bought from a vendor just moments before being offered. No consideration of how much they could truly, sacrificially, give from their personal flocks and herds. It had simply become an obligation amounting to little more than a financial transaction. Additionally, in bringing money into the temple courts they were bringing in an idol. The Romans insisted that when an Emperor (Caesar) died, they were to be worshipped as a god and Roman money, which included the image of Caesar, was now coming into the Temple.
This story illustrates how the religious officials of Jesus’ time had misled their people in their worship, making it more about obligations than relationship. It also illustrates how commonplace it had become to cheat God when it came to making a sacrifice to Him. Because Jesus paid the price for our sins once and for all on the cross, we are able to be in right relationship with God without the system of animal sacrifice practiced in the Temple. However, we still have a responsibility to worship God authentically and not as an obligation. We are still called to give sacrificially to God and not just as an afterthought out of our excess. We are still called to follow Jesus which means showing incredible mercy, grace, and forgiveness to who are simply trying their best to survive but not doing a great job at it while flipping the tables on those who abuse money and power.
The theme of our Lenten Journey this week is repentance. I know for me, this theme strikes a deep chord because it forces to me admit times when I have desired things Jesus would have walked away from. It forces me to acknowledge that I am not perfect, that I have messed up, that I have fallen short.
Repentance is often something we set aside until we REALLY need it. It is generally pretty easy to realize when we mess up in big ways. But what about the small things we choose to do on a daily basis? What about the little choices we make each day which draw us just a tiny little bit further away from our Heavenly Father? That choice to watch just one more TikToc video instead of reading our Bible. Or the choice to watch just one more episode on Netflix instead of spending time in prayer. Perhaps it is the choice to spend the night hanging out with friends at the bar instead spending time working on your relationship with your spouse. To be clear, none of these things are inherently bad or sinful by themselves but they can become so when they pull us away from how God has called us to use our time.
So what is daily repentance all about? It’s about a regular acknowledgement that we have a part in our relationship with God. We have a responsibility to turn away from behaviors and ways of thinking which draw us away from God. It is an ongoing response to who Christ is and what He did for us on the cross of Calvary. Ultimately, repentance is coming to a place of deep conviction of our sin and making a true commitment to do our very best to stop. Daily repentance acknowledges that stopping is rarely as easy as it sounds so each day we need to recommit to putting God first in our lives in both big and small ways.
- Check out this week's video!
- Our personal sin is often one of our biggest blind spots. We are great at justifying our own faults to make ourselves feel better and let ourselves off the hook. Consider how you can become aware of and be honest with yourself about the sin in your life.
- Accountability can be a huge factor in making meaningful changes in our lives. Consider who you can ask to hold you accountable for making a change that deals with one source of sin in your life.
- Consider what it means for you to pray the prayer my friend shared. What tables are you desiring a seat at that Jesus would have flipped?