Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Power of a 180

A “180” is commonly thought of as a half-turn.  Specifically, it is a 180degree turn, which means that the subject will end up facing the opposite direction. 
About two and a half years ago I was in church listening to a sermon by Greg Harris (one of my all time favorite preachers).  The sermon was on repentance.  At the time, I was in a very different place spiritually, so I didn’t absorb much of the sermon.  However, one concept stuck, for it reentered the forefront of my mind two years later:

I had been struggling with lust; and losing.  I was so battered and bleeding and angry at myself for praying the same prayer of apology and asking forgiveness over and over and over again.  But then one night, as I lay in bed weeping over another failed day, I literal sound byte played through my mind.  It was Mr. Harris talking about repentance.  He said that remorse, repentance, and forgiveness were three very different things.  Remorse is feeling genuinely regretful and broken about what you have done.  Forgiveness is God cleansing that sin by wiping it away.  Repentance is literally turning away from that sin.  Someone who constantly returns to their old ways shows a lack of a repentant heart: without repentance there is no remission of sin. 
What do I mean by turning away?  The answer is almost too simple;

What is the opposite of telling a lie?  Speaking the truth.
How does a liar seek true repentance?  He strives to speak the truth of God.
What is the opposite of stealing?  Giving.
How does a thief seek true repentance?  He learns to give all that he has to God, and allows God to be generous through Him.
            What is the opposite of cursing and blasphemy?  Blessing.
How does a curser and blasphemer seek true repentance?  He takes every opportunity to bless and be a blessing to God and everyone around him.
            What is the opposite of disrespect?  Respect and honor.
How does a disrespectful teenager seek true repentance?  He respects and honors his parents and all other authority figures in his life.

            Here was the big one for me that night:  What is the opposite of lust?  After thinking about it, I realized that lust is a false love based on feeling and impulse.  It has no commitment and no dignity.  Therefore, the opposite of lust is true love.  Now, guys, don’t get all excited and think that I’m saying to go out and find a girl.  No, I’m talking about something different entirely.  I prayed that night that God would expand my heart and give me an enormous capacity to love Him, and that my love for Him would overflow onto those around me.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like caring for someone’s heart because you want to ease their pain and rejoice with them in their gladness.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like talking and engaging with someone with genuine interest, even if they may not be considered “cool.”  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like hating the sin but loving the sinner; not being so self centered so as not to step out of your comfort zone and exhort your struggling brother or sister.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like having a passion for sharing your faith with those who don’t know God’s love like you do.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like doing whatever it takes to follow wherever God leads, even if it may look like foolishness to the world.  Letting God’s love shine through you looks like all this and a thousand other things.  When you have all these outlets of pure, beautiful, strong, committed love flowing through you, you will have no space left for the cheap throwaway “love” that lust offers you.
            In today’s culture, the battle against lust is an unbelievably steep one.  It is exhausting and relentless.  However, I will submit that it is not a lost cause and it IS a battle worth fighting.

            A powerful example of a radical 180 is that of the apostle Paul (formerly, Saul).  He went from being a relentless persecutor of Christianity to becoming the greatest defender of the faith to ever live!  That, my friend, is a total turnaround. 
            The next time you find yourself on your knees asking for forgiveness, why don’t you ask yourself (and God) what you can do to turn away from your sin?

            Make the 180.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...
    That was...

    I had never thought about it that way before. Remorse, repentance and forgiveness-- all different.
    Hm- wow. Thank you for that!

    Hey. I told you that you'd make a good blogger, did I not? (P.s. Get you name out there by following and commenting on people's blogs- you'll followers if people can find your profile!)