Here's the Reflection questions:
1. What is your personal experience around repentance, forgiveness and refreshment? How does this shape your relationship with God?
Repentance brings refreshment.
It’s something Peter was inviting these Jewish listeners into, it’s something God is always inviting us into.
To begin I want to share the most beautiful picture of repentance I have heard. Connects with me.
Story: There were two small boys playing in an overgrown garden. The old man who lived in the house had been ill for many weeks, and though nurses and doctors came and went to the house nobody seemed to bother about what happened in the garden. So, the two brothers quietly took over the space.
There was a tennis court as part of the yard, but the boys had never seen something like this before. They had no idea what to do with it, but they noticed the lines and markings and as a result figured out that it was for some sort of game.
The net hung slack in the middle of the court, and since the only ball they had was a soccer ball, they invented a game of kicking the ball over the net to each other, trying to land it within the lines on the other side. It more or less worked but not the most exciting, challenging game ever invented.
One day the old man’s son came home from abroad to visit his father. Looking down from the upstairs window, he saw the boys playing their made-up game.
He couldn’t help but smile. He immediately went to the sports cupboard, collected all the tennis equipment and brought it to the boys.
To their surprise He wasn’t angry. All He did was ask them a question.
“Do you want to play the real thing?”
What’s the real thing? the boys responded.
Tennis of course! Here, I’ll show you.
And within a few minutes he swept the leaves off the court, tightened the net, equipped the boys with the rackets and balls, and began to teach them the difficult but far more rewarding game that the court was built for.
The boys were playing a game, seemed quite content, but along comes the owner’s son, who messes up their game, and teaches them a far more challenging but rewarding game.
It involved some work, some determination, new skills, work different muscles…
But way more rewarding to play this game, the one it was intended for, than what they were doing.
Beautiful picture of repentance for me.
We are going along, living our lives, doing the best we can, and along comes the Son, Jesus and asks us, do you want to play the real thing?
The sort of question God gives us countless times throughout our journey of faith? We try on our own, we come to the end of ourselves, and Jesus comes along – no condemnation in his voice, just an invitation. Do you want to play the real thing?
I wish we could remove the stigma from this word and see how beautiful it is. How normal it is. Every time we make a movement towards God, adjust our game, requires repentance. A change. A tweak. And adjustment. Aligning ourselves to Him.
It’s also that part of what we know to be true in our Christian journey.
NT Wright says that “The notion of refreshment is part of the Christian experience as again and again in worship, and as we break bread, read and study the scriptures, Christian fellowship and prayer.
It’s like heaven and earth coming together, when we get a sense of what we were made for, a new world that we will finally enjoy. Available for all who seek it.
Think about the boys out on the tennis court, learning the game as it was meant to be played. Hard work, learning a new way to live, hard work but so rewarding.
Out there on the court, learning from the Son.
Being taught. Learning His ways.
Ah yes! This is the way life was meant to be lived!