A Remarkable Invitation

Jeremiah 3:14

Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, and I will bring you to Zion.

Matthew 3:1–2

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

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Imagine the leading Republican presidential candidate speaking before the ACLU national convention, or Hilary Clinton speaking at an NRA national gathering. You wouldn’t expect there to be much traction. But God seeks to span an even greater world-view chasm when he calls us to repent. Notice how God speaks through Jeremiah to “faithless children!” Recall how John the Baptist called the people coming to be baptized a “brood of vipers!”

There are “people of peace” whom God puts in our paths for the sake of his kingdom. They do not obviously need to repent. There are also those who will not receive the message of God’s kingdom. Jesus tells his disciples to shake the dust from their feet in response to those who do not receive their message (see Matthew 10:5-15 for Jesus’ instructions in this regard). But we don’t really know who is in what group of people until we seek to engage them in conversation or call them to repentance.

God is not on a mission of futility. His grace and truth actually moves people’s hearts. People repent and believe the Good News of Jesus. Faithless children become faithful followers of Jesus Christ by the power of his Holy Spirit’s work in their hearts. The fact is we all need to repent daily. None of us is perfectly faithful or fully living under Christ’s reign. Try as we might, we cannot live a perfect life.

Thank God he calls us back to himself. Remember, too, that he calls the faithless and sinners to himself, offering them and us together the fullness of his love and salvation through faith in Jesus. We need to be careful not to be too smug about our faith, too judgmental about others’ hearts, or too hopeless about anyone’s spiritual wellbeing. God is calling sinners to himself. That is a remarkable invitation and good news for all people.

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