quote for today

"By all accounts, and according to the precepts of modern-day Christianity, I'd been 'saved.' On the surface, I stopped doing bad things. I quit a lucrative career that didn't square with my newfound religious principles. I no longer partied myself stupid on weekends. Instead, I spent my free time with fellow believers, and we inspired each other with long talks about the Gospels. I built homes for the poor, tutored disadvantaged children, visited elderly shut-ins, fed the hungry, and clothed the homeless. On top of that, a livelihood of farming among simple folk, away from the rat race of the American Dream, restored some peace of mind. Yet I couldn't shake a nagging sense that the real essence of the Gospels had eluded me. I sensed in the most demanding of Jesus' words a life I had not yet discovered. Outwardly I'd changed. Yet inwardly, I was haunted by my past and the realization that though I'd cleaned up my act, I was still living as I wanted, accountable to no one. What did Jesus really mean, after all, when He said, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' 'Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it' 'Whoever does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple?' "It was during these years that I encountered a group of people sharing their lives and their faith completely, much like the early Christians did as recorded in the book of Acts. From what I heard, the meaning of repentance among these people seemed to penetrate far deeper than anything I'd known. Not only were coarse sins renounced, but also all remaining toeholds of a self-directed life: private property, personal independence, even pet ideas--so that Christ, and Christ alone remained. I sensed a unity far deeper than the all-embracing ecumenism of the churches (which in my experience often glossed over a lot of tensions and bad feelings). Somehow, I felt that the pearl of great price, spoken of by Jesus, lay hidden in such a life. "I'd spent years being a 'good Christian,' but my first months in community shattered long-held illusions about myself. Not only was I shocked by the level of my own ambition, divisiveness, and arrogance, but I began to realize for the first time that thirty years of living a very sinful life had left me with an enormous burden inside. Hearing others speak from hearts struck by the need for repentance, I saw that I was deeply bound by an accumulation of countless deeds kept in the dark, the awareness of which crippled me inwardly.... "I realize now that this experience of repentance and forgiveness of sins, sealed by baptism, was the beginning of a lifelong course. Many times since, I have needed to repent of further arrogance or selfishness or impurity. And it seems that time only deepens regret for past sins, revealing them in a light of increasing intensity. Yet the joy of being freed to live for Christ and His kingdom in this way only increases, too. "I'm convinced now that the repentance Jesus was speaking of is a way of life, which has little to do with being 'saved' and a lot more to do with dying to oneself completely so that Christ might truly live. But this isn't the 'gospel' we hear being preached today. Jesus said, 'Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted,' yet today's 'gospel' seems to me like one of exaltation: of personal ministries, of clever theologies, of 'discipling' converts and planting churches, of discovering one's full potential. Everywhere, it seems, one can be a 'good Christian' and get away with it. Whatever happened to the challenge of John the Baptist, who warned the brood of unrepentant vipers of his day to leave the Jordan until they produced fruits in keeping with repentance? Jesus spoke of repentance as the 'narrow gate,' and said that many rather go through the wide gate, which leads to destruction. I think he was talking about Christians, perhaps especially those of our time." --Dan Hallock, "What Shall We Do?". Found on this site.


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