Cleaning Out the Hidden Corners of Our Hearts
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther is said to have posted 95 theses, or "Disputation on the Power of Indulgences," on the door of All Saints Church. The professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg was proposing an academic debate about indulgences—the practice of doing good works or offering money in order to remove punishment for sin. Luther was disturbed by how indulgences encouraged people to pay for forgiveness rather than repent. Instead, Luther argued: "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when he said 'Repent,' willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance."
In the daily round of life, dust and cobwebs accumulate in our souls. The hidden corners of our hearts become encrusted with grime or filled with forgotten debris. During the weeks of Lent, God's Spirit is given opportunity to clear away the clutter, sweep away the dust and wash us clean. We are invited to prepare ourselves—heart, soul, mind, and body—for the new life of Easter.
King David wrote in Psalm 51:“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
Jewish tradition says, that the person who acknowledges that they have sinned and are fearful and prays to God about it, as David did, will be forgiven. But one who tries to ignore his sin will be punished by God. It also speaks of God’s grace and how a sinner can return to God. Verse 19 in the Hebrew states that God desires a "broken and contrite heart," more than our personal sacrifices. The popular Christian chorus based on Psalm 51 goes like this:
Purify my hear
Touch me with Your cleansing fire
Take me to the cross
Your holiness is my desire
Breathe Your life in me
Kindle a love
That flows from Your throne
Oh purify my heart
Purify my heart
Author Mark Galli in an article titled Whatever Became of Repentance? Notes that repentance is unpopular because we're "addicted" to justifying our own actions and pointing out the evil in others. If we really looked at our own self-centeredness and pride, we'd have to admit that we are also a hypocrite and a moral failure. Galli concludes: “Well, yes. Aren't we all? That's precisely why Jesus came, to save the world from itself and to save us from ourselves. That's why the word repentance is usually connected to the phrase "good news," as Jesus said in the book of Mark: "Repent and believe the good news!"
In His Name
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