A Change of Heart Must Come
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. – Matthew 21:28-32 ESV
Jesus, in this parable, cast the tax collectors and prostitutes in the role of the obedient son because they were repentant sinners. And Jesus cast the chief priest and elders in the role of the defiant son, because although they were morally upright, they did not respond to John’s call to repentance. Let me tell you a short story I like to call, “The Reluctant Preacher”. Many years ago, a man who had faith, kept denying God’s call to the ministry. Everyone around him kept telling him that he should enter the ministry; that God had so gifted him. He even saw and experienced first-hand the work of God in his life. Yet he still refused to go. His wife, Pastors, family and friends all urged him to stop fighting the call which seemed so obvious to everyone but himself. Why did he keep refusing? He did not believe that God was calling him to the ministry. But even more so than that, he had his own agenda for his life. That agenda did not include being a Pastor or leading a congregation. It was all about him and what he could accomplish on his own in his life. And it was about money. All of his friends were buying bigger, nicer homes and cars and boats and summer cottages. And our reluctant preacher wanted all of those things too! And he figured that being a pastor was the surest way not to get those things. So for twenty years, he fought the call. For twenty years he was disobedient to the will of God. And for twenty years he wrestled with God for control of his life.
What happened to him? Well, as I said, a change of heart must come. And it did. One day God closed all the doors the reluctant preacher had opened for himself and left him no other option than to submit to His will. God forced the would-be preacher to admit to himself that he was a defiant son. He came to realize that the words in the Lord’s Prayer are “Thy will be done” not “My will be done”. And if Jesus submitted to the will of the Father, who was he that he should not submit also. You see, our friend was guilty of many sins. He was guilty of not recognizing the authority of God, of not hearing the voice of Christ in those who God directed to urge him into ministry; of lack of faith that Christ works out everything for the good of those that believe in Him and of believing his will superior to God’s and not recognizing the sufficiency of God’s grace.
How did his change of heart come? It came through faith. The preacher remained faithful to Christ by loving Him and confessing Christ as Lord and Savior, clinging to the cross of forgiveness. And Jesus did not give up on him, either. Christ was faithful to the preacher by loving him and by the Holy Spirit showing him all those treasures he had stored up in his heart were worthless compared to the love, salvation and eternal life found in Christ Jesus. Without faith, the preacher never would have recognized the authority of Jesus, and a change of heart would not have occurred. In case you haven’t guessed, that reluctant preacher was me.
What we learn from Jesus’ parable and the story of the reluctant preacher is that we all are called to serve. Some of us are hesitant, but we obey. Some of us say we will but don’t. But none of us are beyond repentance and a change of heart must come to all of us sooner or later. God looks at our hearts, regardless of what we say or do because their lies our treasure and their lies our motivation. Our mouths can lie and our hands can deceive, but the truth is in the heart. And because the truth is in the heart, a change of heart must occur when we encounter Christ. We cannot remain the same in the presence of pure holiness in the same way that darkness cannot remain in the presence of light. We are all called to be faithful and obedient. This is not optional. You will discover if you haven’t already that God’s Will is going to be done, one way or another; with you and me or without. A change of heart must come, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen God bless you all!
The peace of the Lord be with you,
-Rev. Brian Dupre, Pastor, SOTC