Wednesday, September 26, 2012
EVERY DAY IS A DAY OF ATONEMENT
This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work —whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you—because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. (Leviticus 16:29-30)
Today is Yom Kippur—the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The day when Jews feel closest to God. The day they seek forgiveness from their sins; turn away in repentance and are cleansed.
Asking for forgiveness is usually the easy part for us—although sometimes it only comes after the pain of owning up to our sins.
Accepting forgiveness and being cleansed are also the easy part—we just open our hearts and receive the flow of God’s grace and mercy.
It’s the repentance that’s the toughie in the equation. I sin. I ask forgiveness. But do I really intend to turn away from that sin? Never do it again? Do I even want to?
Repentance is about change. Changing our thinking. Changing our focus. Changing our habits. Changing our desires. Sometimes—changing our natural instincts.
It’s the hard part. And it’s usually painful.
The temporary pain of understanding our need for repentance is tough, too. It’s about accepting the truth that we are wrong, infallible, faulty. The repentance is usually ongoing—forever. It’s about changing for good. And sometimes that change requires daily or even moment-by-moment awareness and commitment to change.
But God rewards that repentance with his forgiveness; his mercy and grace.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve. When we are forgiven and cleansed, we get to skip the punishment part. You know, that eternal damnation thing? Praise God for His mercy.
Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. When we sin, we realize we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and cleansing. We don’t deserve His love. We don’t deserve His promise of eternal life in His glorious presence. But He gives us grace anyway. Praise God for His grace.
As Christians, Jesus provided a way for us to approach the throne of mercy and grace every moment of every day. We don’t have to wait for that one day each year when we ask forgiveness, repent and are cleansed. Just as we need God’s mercy and grace each moment, so can we seek it.
And each time we seek God, we see more of His character and—hopefully—can grow more into the likeness of Jesus.
Enjoy today as Yom Kippur and rejoice that—for Christians—every day is the holiest day of the year.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and the means to come before you every moment of every day to ask forgiveness, repent and be cleansed. Amen.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? Which part of the equation is harder for you: the process of owning up to your sin or the turning away from it?