Asking Christ to Change Us

by Oliver W. Price

We cannot meet in prayer with Christ without humbly expecting our sinless Lord and Savior to change us in order to make us holy. The Bible calls this radical change repentance.

What exactly does "repentance" mean? The word comes from the Greek word metnoia. It refers to the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life. Thus it embraces not only a recognition of sin and sorrow for it, but also hearty amendment-the tokens and effects of which are good deeds.

Reconciliation with a holy God and a growing intimate relationship of love with Him require two things. We must respond to Him with faith and repentance. Faith and repentance are like two sides of a coin: You can distinguish them but you cannot separate them.

One man wisely shared, "I repented before I knew what repentance was, and I have repented many times since." He was unusual, for the average American Christian does not understand why he or she should ever repent, let alone repent repeatedly.

Today we have forgotten our need to repent not only of our personal sins but also of the sins of the church. When our Lord calls His church to repent, it includes every believer (Rev. 2:5, 16,21,22; 3:3,19). We are members of the church, the body of Christ, so when the body sins, we all sin.

Isaiah was a faithful prophet, but consider his cry after he saw the Lord in His glory and majesty. "So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts'" (Isa. 6:5). Isaiah repented not only because of his own personal sins, but also because of his identification with the backslidden people of God.

We are prone to think that repentance needs to begin in the dens of iniquity among those who are grossly sinful. But in reality Christians need to repent first, for God's judgment always begins with His own people. "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Pet. 4:17). When God pours out His righteous indignation on America, He will begin with the church!

Our Neglected Responsibility

Why is the church the place to begin? The church has the responsibility to shine as lights in the midst of a perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). America has turned away from the Scriptures and from God. As a nation, we have wallowed in the darkest forms of immorality. This is due in large measure to the fact that the Christian community fails to shine as lights.

Our love relationship with Christ and with one another has waned considerably. We are like the Church of Ephesus. The members of that first-century congregation had performed many good works for God but  they had departed from Christ, their first love. Jesus warned, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its  place unless you repent" (Rev. 2:5). When the light of God's presence is removed from the church, society quickly degenerates to the lowest depths of pagan darkness.

When our Lord calls the church to repent, even the "best" members are individually and collectively responsible to heed the call. The church desperately needs to unite today in an outpouring of repentant prayer. We need to repent and return to Christ with complete love and devotion, no matter what the cost.

This article is from The Power of Praying Together; Experiencing Christ Actively In Charge by Oliver W. Price, Kregel Publications, used by permission.  Available at Christian bookstores or from the author at www.praywithChrist.org

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