It was a cold March evening when I dropped to one knee, opened the little black box that was stored in my coat pocket, and asked my girlfriend to become my wife. With shaky knees and an even shakier hand, I had decided who my life partner was to be from that day forward. Fortunately for me, she said yes. Now that she had agreed to the proposal she would be asked to align her life with mine. A simple one-time decision would never be enough if our marriage was to flourish. That moment was both a decision and a direction. Marriage is a one time yes and a thousand other nos to any future proposal. It is a one-time yes and thousands of other decisions, small and large, to continue to align with the original yes. No one in their right mind would accept a yes and then be glad that their betrothed continued living as they had always lived. Changes were in order. Two must become one.
Repentance is like that proposal. Unfortunately it has become legal and laden with negativity and is viewed instead as an execution. This shouldn’t be so. I am certain that marriage, like repentance, is, in many ways, a death to the old, but it is so much more. Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him, come and die.” This is true, however, what we receive is worth far more than what is lost. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” [Jim Elliot]
The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15
Jesus has proposed. He has chosen us as the affection of His heart and dropped to one knee by the virtue of the cross. That’s really good news. While we were yet enemies and of no beauty for Him, he proposed. Please take a moment to grasp the meaning of that truth. God proposed to us. Now, with a post-cross perspective, His posture is one of waiting on us to agree and then continue aligning our lives to His. His is not a legal motivation to save us merely from something, but a motive of love and to save us for something. Life with Him. He offers His name (Identity). He offers his companionship. (Intimacy). He offers his character. (Integrity).
A disciple is formed through an initial agreement and an ongoing alignment of our lives with our Bridegroom. A decision is the yes-point of the engagement, but everyone knows that this is just the beginning. There are preparations to be made and a wedding to be planned.
The first act of childlike obedience as a disciple is repenting from living my own life and receiving the life the bridegroom has planned for us together. Typically this first act I’m speaking of is known as conversion. It’s the act that causes us to lose our old identity and name and take on a new identity as two begin the process of becoming one.
The ongoing journey of authentic discipleship begins by fighting against known sin, trusting His finished work on the Cross and being available to receive the filling of God’s breath. Although this looks like three actions, it’s actually one. It is no different than a woman responding yes to a proposal and then aligning her life in one constant direction towards her bridegroom. In one act, she is saying yes to the one and no to all others. She is trusting in His provision, purpose, and protection. She is opening herself to be filled with his breath through a kiss in the early days, and a much more intimate consumption of the marriage later. The reproduction process begins here in this very first act of loving obedience. What starts as breath later becomes a baby. What was at first a proposal has become so much more. A picture of true love.