Every day we are changing into the fashion of something that has influence in our lives. The world demands that we change into what is acceptable. Dress like the latest fad, listen to the coolest music, watch the latest movie or TV show, drive the latest model car, keep up with the newest electronics and so on and so on.
What does that look like for you?
What is influencing your life?
Whatever that influence is, it is changing us because we want to be like what we see and hear.
What do you see and hear?
David Wilkerson wrote about repentance being the first message that Jesus preached. (click here for his article) We have to ask the question, "Repent from what?" What was it that Jesus said after that? He said. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." So in order for us to enter into the Kingdom of God we would need to exit wherever we are.
Jesus called people to repent before He even called them to believe.Mark writes, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of thekingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdomof God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15). Ref.
What is the Kingdom of God?
Is it a physical location in the heavenlies?
Is it a state of mind?
What does that phrase mean?
John the Baptist said the same thing that Jesus said later. He was ushering in the appearance of Jesus.
John the Baptist also preached repentance, to prepare Israel forthe coming of Christ. John´s message to the Jews was simpleand straightforward: "In those days came John the Baptist,preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: forthe kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). Ref.
John knew that there was a change needing to happen in the lives of the people of that day. They could not enter into the Kingdom of God unless they exited where they were.
People came from everywhere to hear John preach. And he toldthem in no uncertain terms: "The Messiah is soon to appear inyour midst, so you´d better get ready to meet Him! You may feelexcited that He´s coming, but I´m telling you, your hearts are notprepared because you´re still holding on to your sins. Ref.
John was not a softie when it came to telling people the way life was or what they needed to do. He said to the Pharisees and the Sadducees,
"Outside you appear clean and holy. But inside, you´re full of deadmen´s bones! You´re a generation of vipers, snakes, with absolutelyno fear of God [see Matthew 3:7-12]. Yet you have no concept thatyou´re even sinners. I warn you-you must deal with your sin beforeyou can believe on the Savior and follow Him. So, repent, turn fromyour sin and live in a way that reflects genuine change!" Ref.
So, he said there needed to be a change, a genuine change, not a half-hearted, wishing I was different, but maybe tomorrow attitude of the mind. He is talking about the "real deal". He is talking about repentance, which means to "go the other way", exit and flee where you are at.
The Kingdom of God is the place where God is on the throne and in control of His kingdom. His Kingdom is wherever He is and dwells. His Kingdom is filled with His subjects, those that recognize and submit themselves to His rule. They follow His orders and do the will of Him. They desire to please Him.
The kingdom of man is the place where man is on the throne and in control of him kingdom. His kingdom is wherever he is and dwells. His kingdom is filled with those who are subject to him and submit themselves to his desires and rule. Man's will is to do whatever pleases himself and subject those around him to the effects of his actions.
Until we are willing to exit the kingdom of man we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. We cannot hold on to one and have the other. It is either our way or His way. It is not both. So, when John and Jesus said "repent" they were simply saying to go the other way. Go away from our way of thinking and acting to enter into the way of thinking and acting in regard to God's Kingdom.
Think about what you fill your time with and what interests you the most. Are they things that are in the kingdom of man? Are they interests that fulfill your desires to be consumed by you in regard to your desires? Do you think and do the things that satisfy you for the moment and then go on to the next desire?
If so, you may fall into that category of person that John and Jesus were talking about. You may need to consider a change. A genuine change. A change that departs from you and enters into God. You may be the person who thinks that you have it all together and are doing everything right but in reality you are the exact person John and Jesus were talking about needing repentance and salvation.
Just because you think you are saved and going to heaven, just because you go to church, Sunday school, bible studies or live in a Christian community or rub shoulders with Christians every day doesn't mean you are living in the Kingdom of God. It doesn't even mean you are saved. Unless there is a genuine change in your inner-most parts that motivates and leads you into the reality of God, the Kingdom of God, you may just be fooling a lot of people around you, even fooling yourself.
I leave you with the words of Jesus and John,
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel"
"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."