SUNDAY SERMON: Either repent fully or not at all - Daily Nation

Be hot or cold: Either repent fully or not at all

Saturday June 9 2018

God forgives the most outrageous sin as long as you repent. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

God forgives the most outrageous sin as long as you repent. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

By Joe Babendreier
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What we have learned from the likes of Goldenberg and the Artur Brothers (not to mention more recent events)? There are a few, like the unjust steward, who triumph in the eyes of the world by being brazen and ruthless.

I’m not sure this is what the Holy Spirit had in mind when he inspired St John to write a certain text in the Book of Revelation. However, that text does condemn half-hearted effort: “I know about your activities: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

Could God describe more graphically how he feels about people who make no effort to pray and no effort to be sorry for their sins? It may shock some Christians to discover that God was willing to forgive David after his crime of murder, which he performed to cover up an act of adultery.

It may shock some Christians to hear Jesus say to a woman caught in the act of adultery that he was ready to forgive her. But it fits perfectly with the way God forgives sinners who repent while rejecting anyone who justifies himself saying: “I have nothing to be sorry for.”

It was definitely shocking to any Jew 2000 years ago to watch Jesus let a woman with a bad reputation kiss his feet and wash them with her tears, and then beyond shocking to listen to him say: “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace!”

According to St Luke, the scene led Simon the Pharisee to say to himself: “If this man were truly a prophet, he would know who this woman is that is touching him and what bad name she has.” 

Be hot or be cold, but don’t be lukewarm. There was nothing lukewarm about David. Read Psalm 51 sometime and you’ll know what I mean. It’s a prayer the king wrote to express sorrow for his sins. It’s a model of the way anyone can make an act of contrition. 

God forgives the most outrageous sin as long as you repent. But repent with “hot” determination — hot to match the coldness of your sins. Repent with a willingness to let God purify you completely. Accept with gratitude all the ways in which he allows pain and suffering to purify you. 

If you want to take it a step further, follow the advice penned by a modern saint: “Don’t ask Jesus to forgive only your own faults. Don’t love him with your heart alone. Console him for every offense that has been, that is, and that will be done to him. Love him with all the strength of all the hearts of all those who have loved him most.”