The Game of Pretend Repentance

When I was a kid I played ‘pretend guns.’ All of my friends and I would get together with our plastic Uzi guns and camouflage military canteens. We would belly-crawl through the rough terrain of my back yard, pop up and yell “Bang, UUUUGGG! Pow! You’re dead!!” If it was perceived that the opponent had made an accurate shot, you would begin the dramatic response of pretending to die. I remember grabbing my wound and dramatically dropping to the ground.

Sometimes I think we play the same game in our churches and lives. We know the routine; we know the appropriate dramatic response of pretending to die when the Word of God shoots us and exposes our sinfulness. In other words, we know the appropriate pretend and superficial responses to the question, “are you a sinner? “Oh, Yes…. UUUUGGG, woe is me… I am dead!”

Why do we do this pretend repentance as Christians? The answer: it is more comfortable to pretend to be shot than actually be shot and killed. Think about it, if we pretend to be shot by the reality of our own sin, we can manage it and we can manipulate the pretend wound to our own advantage. We can scream out in pretend painful remorse to God and others in order to somehow be granted kudos and love while protecting our own self-righteousness.

In Matthew 3:13-17 we see that Jesus is baptized into a baptism of repentance. Just think about this for a second. Jesus is baptized in a baptism of remorse for sin. The sinless Lamb of God sorry for sin? Whose sin? Well, yours and mine.

What does this means for you and me? It means that Jesus was actually sorry about our sin, and He wasn’t pretending. He had more grief about our sin than we will ever have and ultimately did something about it, He devoured it. Jesus, accepted this baptism because it anticipated His death on the cross in which He entered into our role, that is, He was becoming a sinner for us, taking upon Himself that which He had not done.  Thus Christ drowned our sin in His holy baptism and buried our sin deep in His wounds for us. 

Because of this we don’t have to pretend! We get to be honest about our brokenness, all because Jesus has gone before us and is tender towards us. He was wounded for our transgressions. He chose the cross and died—really died—because we sin

“Bang!” -- a nail is driven.
“UUUUGGGG!” – a spear pierced his side.
“Pow!!” – a rock rolls and our Savior rises victorious

Praise God that we do not have to pretend when it comes to our sin. Thank you Jesus that you saved a wretch like me!”