Jesus calls on us to have faith and repent. He explains that the Kingdom of God is near. The Kingdom is here in the form of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit is seen descending from Heaven to land on the earthly Jesus at His Baptism, so we all receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism. God through the Holy Spirit, wants to guide our lives and be in a relationship of holy love. Since the Holy Spirit cannot bear to be around the un-holy, we must repent and seek forgiveness to be in a relationship of holy love with the divine.
1. The challenge of a holy love relationship
God had a challenge when He created us. Love is a choice. In order for us to be able to chose to love God, God had to give us free will and the possibility of not choosing to love Him. The point is that God loves us so much, and wants a holy love relationship with each of us so much that He decided to take a huge risk.
· Risk is the essence of real and holy love
· Many people are afraid to take this risk and avoid deep emotional and spiritual relationships.
· Many people have taken this risk and been badly hurt when the relationship failed
· Having a holy love relationship with Jesus is safer because He will never reject you if you are serious
· Having a holy love relationship with Jesus is harder because the holy cannot be in the presence of the unholy
· Holy means whole, complete, pure and undivided
· We are by nature unholy - not complete, not pure and divided in our loyalties
· If we were placed next to the holy fire of God's pure love the unholy parts of us would simply be burned up.
· This is why God had to come to us in the divine / human form of Jesus and create a way of making the unholy, holy
· God made a new covenant in the shed blood of Jesus
· Those who have faith and repent are forgiven and made holy
2. The apostle Paul explains the importance of Baptism
The Good News of Christianity is that “Christ died for sins, once for all...” (1 Peter 3.18) The death of Jesus has replaced the mass death of the Biblical Flood. Instead of God having to rescue the faithful people like Noah and destroy the rest; individual Christians are Baptized into a spiritual Covenant relationship with Jesus.
· In this Covenant relationship we die emotionally and spiritually to our past sins - failures to love that separate us from God.
· In baptism our lives are linked to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
· We say “If we have died with Him we shall rise with Him”.
· To understanding how this is possible, we have to understand that God, not Joseph; was the real father of Jesus.
· While an ordinary man could not give up his life for the sins of another, the fully divine and fully human Jesus could.
· Forgiveness is conditional on both faith and repentance.
· We demonstrate this faith when we repent and die emotionally and spiritually for our sins.
3. The Holy Spirit comes and guides us into becoming holy
We discover and grow in our faith in Jesus through baptism preparation and in the life of a Christian community. This begins the lifelong process of regular self-examination and taking our sin guilt to the Cross. As we begin to clean out our spiritual pollution we can invite the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and guide us in our spiritual lives:
- · Holy Spirit works through our conscience to warn us and expose sin
- · Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible - particularly how forgiveness and the Holy Spirit works
- · Holy Spirit gives us gifts that enrich our lives - love, joy, peace
- · Holy Spirit also comforts and heals us when we are afraid, depressed, sick or under attack
The Good News is that we are not alone - Jesus is with us in our Baptismal life and the Holy Spirit is guiding us as we go through the doorway of repentance to the fullness of our life in Christ.