Friday, 19 September 2014
Not Just Forgiven: A Meditation
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
I know I’ve encouraged you to write out a short passage each week so you can meditate on it, but I realized some of us might not know how to do that. Let’s talk about meditation for a moment.
Why meditate? What we think about affects how we live. When I meditate on a compliment, I feed my ego and start to think more highly of myself than I ought. When I meditate on an argument, endlessly replaying it until I can win it hands down, I feed my self-righteousness and become entrenched in my position. When I mediate on a past hurt, I feed my self-pity and become hardened in bitterness or regret.
Our minds need something to wrap around. If I don’t supply my mind with Scripture, I will often go down some very unfruitful paths. God has given us his word to meditate on, so that we will feed on truth about him instead, and become transformed by the renewing of our minds.
How do I mediate? It involves more than my mind, but not less. I ponder the meaning of each phrase, but I don’t stop there. I confess the truth of each statement, and then I move on to delight in it. Tim Keller supplies the following helpful questions:
- What difference does it make that I believe this?
- How would my life be different if I really believed this?
- How would it change my heart and behavior?
and I would add:
- How does it make me glad or amazed?
Meditating on Acts 2:38-39. I start by going phrase by phrase to ask what it means. Along the way, the questions change as it becomes meaningful to me.
- Peter’s talking. Who’s he talking to? Has he ever talked to a crowd before? No. Wow. Look at the change in him.
- He says, “Repent and be baptized.” Why did he put those two words together? I thought it was “repent and believe the gospel.” Is this a command or an invitation?
- He interrupts himself and says “everyone of you” before he finishes saying “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” I can picture his arms held wide to the crowd. It is an invitation. How wide the gospel door is opened. How gracious.
- “In the name of Jesus Christ.” John hadn’t been able to baptize in that name. Was this the first time that phrase was used in human history? Yes. Wow.
- “For the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
At this point I came to a full stop. Forgiveness and ? I tend to think the gospel is just about forgiveness. But that would only leave me clean. Clean, but empty. Clean, but alone. This verse tells me I am forgiven and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. God himself. I’m clean and filled. Clean and brought so near that God is not just with me, He is in me. Glory!
What would it look like if I believed that today? For one, I would realize I’m not alone as I sit at my computer, which often feels like a lonely place. Also, when another spirit tries to enter my heart, the spirit of envy or discontent, it will find the place already occupied. And if it insists on barging in, I have Someone Strong to help me fight it.
We are not alone, sisters. We are not empty. What would it look like if you believed that today?