Friday, May 6, 2011

Brownies, Youth Camps, and Repentance

Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me tell you first and foremost that this is a brownie - scratch that, this is The Brownie. That's right, this is the king of any brownie that was privileged to be labeled as such. I was at a function (sounds fancy, right?) recently, and I was graced with the honor of eating this food. Here were some of my thoughts as I partook in this wonder (accuracy of thought process may be a little, or a lot off):

1. Well, there doesn't seem to be any other food around here worth taking, let me look at the dessert table.

2. Hmmm... macadamia nut cookies, biscuits, coffee... OOH look a BROWNIE!

3. Did I seriously just get that excited over a brownie?

4. I need to work on containing my excitement.

5. Wow, this brownie is amazing. Words cannot describe the chocolaty goodness I am enjoying.

6. Is it a sin to be enjoying something this much?

7. I wish I had some milk to go with this.

8. This brownie is so good... I need to find a way to tie it in to Kingdom Eyes.

9. Are too many of my posts food-related?

All right, well, now I want to move on. I'll show you how this food item ties in later. (Caution: it's about to get serious and I am very bad at transitioning. You have been warned.)

I've been to a number of youth camps, and I've enjoyed them all. And, for me, there were all great experiences for me to grow closer to Christ and to experience Him more fully. But I get kinda aggravated with these camps and retreats sometimes. Well, let me rephrase that: I get aggravated with the people that go to these youth camps. Why? Well, it's because of something I'll call Youth Camp Syndrome. "What is that?" you ask? I'm glad you asked.

Every time I've been to a youth camp, there was always a time when either the music was really powerful, or the pastor was really dynamic, or they sang "How Great is Our God" 93 times until there wasn't a dry eye in the camp. And, as a result of these things, people got really emotional and made "landmark" decisions to start living a powerful life for Christ. They made big resolutions to put down the sin in their lives and pursue God with all they had. "That's great!" you say, right?

I guess time tests all things, because when I spoke to those same people a few weeks later, their determination and resolve had magically dissipated into an apathetic return to their normal lives. They no longer are taking their sin to war, but letting it sit as it is. This is sad, ladies and gentlemen.

This also points to a serious lack of true repentance.

After doing some studying, I've come to find that repentance is not as easily defined as some might assume. Almost everyone with Youth Camp Syndrome feels a kind of sorrow over their sin. They experience this intensely emotional response to the things that they think they are doing wrong. So they cry and wail, but in the end, when time has passed, their emotions had never led to any action. Which is what the Bible calls "worldly grief."

Recognizing your sin does not count as dealing with it.

Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 7:10, that "godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." He's saying that you can feel all of the emotions and hatred of your sin that you want, but if it isn't godly sorrow, then it is worthless and leads to death.

"How can I know if I'm feeling godly grief?" you ask? The answer is simple: your godly grief will lead to an active war against your sin. However, these are not things we can do on our own. After all, almost any of us can make ourselves sad over our sin. Emotions are an easy game to play.

Ultimately, we must beg God to let us follow up our sorrow with action. We must fight our sin in the power of the Holy Spirit, or else everything that we are doing is worthless.

So, back to the brownie. That King of all Brownies had a chef who spent time making the recipe and baking the tasty treat. Ideally, I would like to say that the chef worked very hard on that brownie, and followed it through to its perfection.

God, who created us in Christ, has the ultimate goal of perfection for all who seek Him and his Kingdom. Philippians 1:6 says it better than I ever could: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Emphasis added.)

That, to me, is one of the most beautiful promises of Scripture. When I am struggling with my sin and seeing a ton of failure in my walk with God, I like to look back to this verse, which guarantees that Christ will see me through to the end, like His perfect little brownie. He is the master chef and I am His precious creation, which He will make perfect one day. And in this I take hope. I have the hope that all these struggles will eventually be done away with.

And so it is with godly grief, true repentance, and the hope of Christ that we move forward.


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