God Calls His People to Repent (Thursday)

“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:7)

When I…as an individual…wander away from my “first love” for God, repentance is required.  The same is true for families, growth groups, ministry teams, committees, councils, and churches!  Corporate (group) repentance is required when a group sins.

Take for example Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation (2:1-3:22).  As the Great “Pastor” (Shepherd), Jesus commends the churches for their faithfulness, but condemns their sinfulness where they have failed in their calling and mission.  The Lord calls each of those churches to repentance.  He does not fail to warn them of the impending doom if they fail to repent and return, but he always holds out to them the forgiving love of God.

Here are Jesus’ condemnations to the five churches:

  • Ephesus–departed from “first love”
  • Pergamum–theological compromise
  • Thyatira–moral compromise
  • Sardis–spiritual deadness
  • Laodecia–apathy, complacency, and apostasy

Interestingly, the strongest threat to the offenders  concerns not their sin (condition) or their sins (actions) but their reluctance to repent!  (See for example 2:20-24.)

Individuals can depart from God and sin; so can groups and churches.  God’s call is the same:  Repent and return to me!  How do groups or churches repent?  The same way an individual does:  humble themselves, prayer, seeking God’s face, and turning from wicked ways (2 Chron. 7:14).

Groups and churches have to get honest with themselves and God admitting that they have left their “first love” and turned toward sin.  Authentic and genuine corporate prayer characterize the group or church earnestly seeking God’s presence with a contrite spirit and a broken heart.  A group or church must turn away from sin:  tearing down “idols” or “sacred cows;” getting rid of traditions and empty rituals; selling property or material things; making restitution for a wrong committed; reconciling with others; and accepting those God has accepted.

Prayerfully consider these questions about our church then ask them of your family, growth group, ministry team, committee, council:

  • Can you identify any way our church has departed from God?  (e.g. prayerlessness, empty ritual and tradition, spiritual deadness, immorality, apathy, complacency)
  • Are there “idols” we…as a church…need to tear down?  “Sacred cows” we should sacrifice? (e.g. program, money, place, past)
  • Have we ever deliberately disobeyed God? (e.g. mistreated staff member, discriminated against people, neglected to reconcile and make restitution)
  • Have we…as a church…ever experienced God’s forgiveness?  Does it need to be?

[Click here to listen to Psalm 51, the classic prayer of repentance written by King David.]

4 thoughts on “God Calls His People to Repent (Thursday)

  1. kenya

    This is a new way of thinking of things….we all like to think of ourselves and why we generally don’t repent for our individual sins…but it is interesting to know that we as a church have to do the same. But this is acheived in individual prayer as well isn’t it?…of course along with our regular sunday group service…..
    over all…nice to know that spiritual needs of the church are being taking care of….and someone is thinking of these things…finally. Buy the way Sebastian’s surgery went very well….

    1. Scott Post author

      Fantastic news about Sebastian! He’s one of our precious little ones with lots of personality and energy. I wonder where he gets it from? 🙂

      You’re right, Kenya, we as individuals make up the church. It’s only as we individually and collectively seek God in humble prayer that we experience repentance, forgiveness, and renewal. May God draw us to himself and to one another…as individuals and as a church…as we draw near to him.

  2. Mac

    Believe me if everyone is taking this week as seriously as you have been leading us, then we will be left on higher dimensions as individuals and as a group. I guess most of the time if our hearts are right as individuals it makes it way easier for the whole church to do the right thing and to flow together.
    I am more than enthused by the prospect of everyone in the church participating in this week´s events of corporately coming back sincerely to God. I pray that God continuously lead you to bring us together to the true worship of Jehovah God!

    1. Scott Post author

      Yes! We are one body, and as Paul says to the Corinthians, “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering.” 1 Corinthians 12:26 (GW) In the same way, if one member of the body is not right with God it affects the whole church. We are in this together. That’s why we have the God-given responsibility of encouraging one another, loving one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, instructing one another. We need each other! May God draw us toward himself and toward one another in love! Thanks, Mac.


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