This past week, my (cyber) small group meeting centered on the subject of being "stuck". The whole conversation revolved around our desire to stop doing something that we know is wrong. And to replace it with something that we know is right and good.
But we sat there baffled as the pathway to doing so eluded us. It reminded me of the time when the Apostle Paul said, "What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15)
What does it take?
The book of Judges - that you just finished reading this last week if you are current on our Southwest 2020 Bible Project - tells the story of Israel (the people of God) stuck in a cycle that began with them sinning, followed by God issuing forth consequences, resulting in Israel repenting, moving God to then deliver them, resulting in a time of relief and peace.
Now that is a story with a happy ending. Unfortunately, the story doesn't stop there. Instead in starts all over. They sin again, the same sin. This cycle is recorded as happening seven times in the book of Judges (ever see the old movie "Groundhog Day"?). Tragically, this deadly cycle of on-again/off-again relationship with God, and regular return to the sin that they can not seem to escape, fuels a devastating downward spiral that deteriorated and destroyed everything that really mattered to Israel. Judges ends with a phrase that describes the sad state of affairs that resulted: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25)
Everyone did right in his own eyes. That sounds an awful lot like the value system of the world I live in.
I think the book of Judges is trying to tell us that everyone needs a King. Now, it needs to be the right King, a good King, a worthy King, but everyone needs that King.
We weren't made to do whatever is right in our own estimations and succeed, at least not in every way that really matters.
Today, let us consider the role of repentance. It is only thing in Judges that the people did right, and it triggered the only part of the cycle that is desirable.
And besides, "Repent!" is the first word Jesus said when he came from Heaven to Earth and began preaching. It must be pretty important.