10 Feb Why God Put Grace Community Church in Nashville, Part 3
Originally posted on May 30, 2008
Churches Have A Prophetic Voice
Most people associate the call to repent with what they perceive to be the angry prophets of the Bible, and the act of repentance with the decision to stop doing bad things. There are, however, two aspects of repentance that need to be understood. The first is that repentance is not a negative word, but rather a positive one. The second is that the call to repent is to come from the love a church has for God and people. The church is to have a prophetic voice in a community.
To repent is not simply to make a decision to stop doing a bad thing. A person can feel bad about sin and make a resolution to stop sinning and still not repent. That’s because the word repent means turn, not stop. To repent is to turn from sin and toward God. Repentance is not the negative action of stopping, but the positive action of turning toward God. The Apostle Paul said he did not stop calling both Jews and Gentiles to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
Repenting of, or from, sin is also repenting toward God. God is the end of our repentance. We turn from sins like lust, materialism, racism, greed, and self-centeredness because these things keep us from God. Turning from these and other sins matters when it is accompanied by turning toward God in faith and submission. This kind of repentance leads us to God. That’s why we can say repentance is positive.
A Prophetic Voice
One reason God put the church in the world is to use her voice to sound the prophetic message of repentance. For people to turn toward God will require them to turn from those things that are keeping them from God and killing their souls. The church calls for repentance so people can have God, and live.
Every church finds itself in a community that has identifiable inclinations toward particular sins that are keeping people from God. The Apostle Paul pointed out that Thessalonica was a place of idolatry and Crete was full of lazy gluttons (I Thessalonians 1:9, Titus 1:12). In both places, turning from these sins was for the purpose of turning toward God. Because Paul loved God and people, he called for repentance.
Grace Community Church is in Nashville to be a prophetic voice. In our affluence, we may see more of the sin of trusting in money rather than God. In our highly religious environment where church attendance is socially accepted and in some cases expected, we may be tempted toward the sins of keeping up religious appearances, and neglecting genuine conversion and true discipleship. Some sins are common to all. Other sins are more prominent in certain places. God put Grace in Nashville to speak to the common and unique sins, showing people how sin keeps them from God. Because we love God and people, we are to call them to turn from sin and toward God.
This is a challenging task, one that will require truth, love, and wisdom. May God give us grace to be a positive, prophetic voice in Nashville for His glory and the good of people.