Another fine guest post from Ray, who blogs at Things of My Soul.
The Jewish leaders who facilitated the crucifixion of Jesus did so in part because they could not accept Him as the one who had led them (Jehovah) and/or would pay for their sins (Jesus). They said, in essence, “We don’t need you. We are children of Abraham. We are fine. We’ll do it on our own.”
We decry deathbed repentance, particularly for those who consciously choose to procrastinate repentance until the end – to do what they want to do until they are facing death and the possibility of judgment, largely because we see repentance as a process rather than an event. At the same time, too many members view grace, faith and works as follows:
“I must do everything I possibly can do; I must give my all; I must wear out myself trying to do what He has asked me to do – THEN He will accept my effort and help me do more.”
That might not be the exact same mentality as “deathbed” repentance, but it is at least “hospital bed” repentance. In very real terms, it is saying, “I will let you know when I need you,” which really is the same mentality as the one who procrastinates the request for help until his deathbed. It also means that I will not receive the help He can give AS I struggle – which means I will not experience His freedom and joy until my frustration nearly (or completely) breaks me. Yes, I will then be blessed, but I will have missed SO much in the meantime.
Hillary Weeks has a song entitled “Unwritten”. (Yeah, I know how uncool and non-intellectual it is to cite “Mormon Religious Pop music”. I don’t care.) The central message is, in my own words:
“As I review the pages of the book of my life, I am grateful for what I read (what I have experienced), but I am most grateful for what has remained unwritten – those things from which the grace of God has shielded me – those things I have not had to experience – those things from which I have been saved **in this life**.”
Jesus, as the Christ, saved us from the effects of our actions on the afterlife, but Jesus, as the exemplary man, showed us a way to be saved from much of the effect of our fallen existence in this life. In a very real way, not accepting what He paid so dearly to provide until we have exhausted ourselves is no different than not accepting that His offer was ever made in the first place until we are on our deathbeds, since they both tell Him to get lost until we get a handle on it on our own.
That’s worth pondering all by itself.