When God breaks His silence, it’s because He has something big to say. One of the key traits of a Christ-follower is to develop the skill of listening to God – and to immediately adjust that part of life to what He says. If this is not a primary objective of your life, it’s a good indication you are not following Jesus Christ.
The word that summarizes this approach to life is “repentance.” It is to a lifestyle of repentance that Jesus calls everyone when it comes to being His disciple. Without a lifestyle of repentance, it is not possible to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the final analysis, each day will take its place as a tile in the mosaic of our lives. We are either following Christ or someone –- or something –- else. The lie that we believe is that there is satisfaction apart from God. The truth is that God is the author of all satisfaction. To live a surrendered life is to live a life of divine satisfaction. When we compromise surrender, we forfeit fellowship with God, and with it the satisfaction that He alone gives.
There was a season when God was silent for 400 years. The silence of God was between the time of Malachi and the opening words of Jesus Christ, recorded in Mark’s Gospel. (Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet of the book that bears his name. You can find it at the end of the Old Testament, right before Matthew’s Gospel.)
When God is silent, it is only because He is preparing to say something significant. In other words, the silence of God is the silver platter upon which the golden apple will be set. Never, therefore, belittle the silence of God. The Master, even in silence, speaks.
Remember, Jesus is indeed God, and it was not merely the Father, but also the Son who was silent for centuries. Jesus’ first words in Mark’s gospel are staggeringly significant. It is the way God broke His silence that should stop us in our tracks – and as a result, move us forward. Jesus’ words reveal our need for the transforming touch of God, and how fundamentally out of alignment we are without it. His words are simple, but by no means insignificant. They are meant to change everything about us, from the inside-out.
Here are the words, carefully selected and masterfully delivered by Almighty God Himself, when He came on the scene and broke His 400 years of silence:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:15 (ESV)
The verb tense in the Greek language that Mark used would be better translated into English as “repent and keep repenting” and “believe and keep believing.” This magnifies the significance of Jesus’ words. A richer, truer understanding of His words reads like this:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and keep repenting, believe and keep believing in the gospel.”
FIRST STEPS, NEW LIFE
Everyone who is now following Jesus had an initial moment of repentance and belief. There is a first time when a person comes to terms with Jesus being God, Savior and friend. But that is simply the new beginning of an entirely new life – an entirely new way of living.
The life of a Christ-follower is to be characterized not merely by belief, but by daily, and moment-by-moment, repentance. Repentance, in brief, is a change of heart, mind and behavior. It is to do a “180,” walking away from the ways of the world, the desires of the sinful nature, and the temptations of Satan.
Everything a Christ follower does is to be marked by a continually turn from selfishness, worldliness and the pursuit of things that don’t matter, to selflessness and things that matter forever.
In short, we need to turn from the sins of self-glorification and of self-protection. All sin can be categorized into one, or both, of these practices. Everything we think, dream and do is to be marked by belief in the Son of God, Jesus, as our Master and Savior in everything. And, when we are really following Jesus, we can no longer take lightly the places we would otherwise go in our minds, hearts and walk. A newfound love for God compels the real Christ-follower to follow.
Surrendering fully to God never limits us. It sets us free. Perpetual repentance and belief are the new calling for the man, woman, boy or girl who has truly heard the Master’s voice and is responding in simple, but vital, obedience.