Day of Repentance and Prayer

It's the day of repentance and prayer and because I live in a region that has it as a public holiday, why not use the time to connect with Gods word.

Let's start with the following question:

Is this day biblical?

Of course not! The bible doesn't order Christians to observe any kind of religous holiday. Nevertheless, I'm glad to have it. And it gives some extra time to think about how I live the Christian live and how I should live it. That leads us to the next question:

What is that day about?

Well, I will not discuss the historical origins here. There are enough other articles out there about this topic. Instead, I will focus on what I take from it today.

This morning I read Acts 6-7, where we can find the story of Stephen. The bible describes Stephen as a man who was "full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people." Some people got envious about that so much that they plotted against him and accused him wrongly. Stephen was dragged to the Council where the Holy Spirit let Stephen describe to the priests how their forefathers turned away from God and persecuted His people and how they still turn away from Him and persecute Gods people.

Then something very interesting happens. The NASB and NIV bibles tell us that "they were furious". KJV says it like this: "they were cut to the heart.", which we can also find in German translations like SCH2000 or DELUT. I prefer this second translation because it describes what really happened inside of them. It cut into their hearts. The words, that the Holy Spirit spoke through Stephen really got to them. That is good. It's awesome, actually.

This is what needs to happen to every one of us. When we behave wrongly (and I as any Christian fail from time to time as well), we need the Holy Spirit to convict us in the center of our hearts. The purpose behind this is, of course, that we improve. If we make the choice to learn from that experience, we can grow much in charakter and in Christ-likeness. However, we need to make that choice!

We can see the opposite reaction in this story in the bible. The priests were furious, gnashing their teeth. And when Stephen said that he saw the Son of man at the right hand of God, they cast him out of the city and stoned him without hesitation.

Today's day of repentance and prayer reminds me that this is the that choice we have to make. When we are convicted for our wrong behaviour, when it cuts into our heart, how do we respond? Do we get furious? Do we let our hearts become so hardened that we don't even see anymore when we are wrong? Or do we humble ourselves. Do we repent, like this day reminds us to? Do we seek forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside?

This day can remind us of these things. But humbling ourselves, repenting, seeking God and the relationship to him is not something to do on only one day of the year. This is a lifestyle that we need to have, so that whenever we fail, we make the choice to grow, grow in Christ-likeness and grow in our relationship with God.