Called to Worship – Issue #13
by Phil Mershon
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
Outside of the Apostle Paul, there is perhaps no greater conversion story than that of John Newton. Born in a Christian home, he slowly abandoned his faith after his mother’s death when he was only seven.
He eventually followed his father into sailing and gained a reputation as a harsh slave trader and unrepentant sinner. Even a narrow escape from death failed to gain Newton’s attention. It wasn’t until he entered a storm that threatened to rip his ship apart that Newton began to evaluate his life from God’s perspective. He repented of what he had become and cried out for mercy.
We know the story as it’s told in his famous Amazing Grace. There are two other statements that summarize Newton’s appreciation of God’s tender mercy. First, when he was 82 and reflecting on his life, he said,
“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things,
that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”
Additionally, his tombstone serves as a capstone of God’s grace:
John Newton, Clerk,
once an infidel and libertine,
a servant of slaves in Africa,was,
by the rich mercy of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
preserved, restored, pardoned,
and appointed to preach the faith he
had long labored to destroy…
It’s interesting to me that the song Amazing Grace is the most requested song at funerals across America. Hardened lifelong pagans will request this song and the reading of Psalm 23, even if they have disavowed God their entire lives. Why? They are hoping to receive mercy at the hands of the God to whom John Newton cried.
My patterns of sin may not rival John Newton’s deliberate rejection of God and his law, but I am equally guilty. I deliberately reject and ignore God’s law (consciously and unconsciously) every day. As I grow older I believe it is God’s kindness that allows me to see the deep-seated selfishness and idolatry that permeates all facets of my life. But God doesn’t just let me see my sin; he leads me to repentance.
Repentance is a military term meaning “about face.” You’ve been heading toward a conflict but now your commanding officer tells you to “repent” and go the exact opposite direction. The officer sees the danger toward which you’re heading (or that you’re in) and tells you to “run away.”
When you’re facing temptation today, listen for God’s kind voice calling you to repent. And if you’re deeply entangled in a pattern of sin, don’t wait until your ship is falling apart; call upon the amazing grace of God. He never ignores the call of a repentant sinner.
If you haven’t seen the movie Amazing Grace, you should. I also encourage you to allow Chris Tomlin’s Kindness to guide your prayers today.
Add your thoughts