“With your whole hearts turn to God and he will blot out all your sins” (Acts 3:19)
As I pondered the depth of this verse from the Book of Acts, it brought a question to mind. How much did God turn his heart towards humanity and what exactly does that mean? I wonder how many of us would consider this question by just reading this simple verse.
Yet, think about it. The God of all creation, the completely Holy, righteous God of the universe, looked down upon his fallen, sinful, broken creation. By all rights, who could blame him for pouring out his wrath on us? After all, we human beings have done some of the most heinous things imaginable against the laws of God. In reality, we cannot even get two simple commandments right: Love the Lord your God with all that you are and love your neighbor as yourself. But rather than God pouring out his wrath on us…he does something that honestly should strike us as quite astounding: God turns his heart TOWARDS us.
Think about this. God’s love is so immense towards us that he was willing to step out of the heavenly space and take on the form of human flesh. And if that is not enough, not only did he subject himself to everything that we human beings are susceptible to, God took one step further. He offered himself up to die one of the most cruel, vicious deaths one could imagine – crucifixion on a cross. This was purely by choice, mind you. And for what? Not only was it to secure our salvation, but it was also to show humanity the fullness of God’s heart turned towards us. That is some crazy love (and know I am not calling God crazy). I’m simply saying, how many humans have the kind of love that God has?
Because God turned his heart fully towards humanity and did everything to redeem us, he makes an invitation. He asks humanity to turn their hearts fully back to him. That is an intense invitation. Why? Because when you think about it, humanity has turned their hearts towards many things in this world. We may not call “idols” for what they are anymore, but that does not diminish the fact that our world is full of idols and we have no problem turning our hearts towards them. And what does this do? It slowly kills us until we face the most grievous death of all, eternal death.
That is why the author of Acts makes this bold statement: “With your whole hearts turn to God and he will blot out all of your sins.” There are some clear statements made in this verse and then some implied benefits as well. The obvious is: Because of what God has done, he expects humanity to do the same. Clearly, this speaks towards human devotion and being a true follower. In other words, you cannot have two masters. There is not middle ground, there is no half-hearted following. You are either a follower of Christ or you are not. To be a follower means that you follow completely, no compromise, no divided loyalties. Nothing can be above God in your life or equal to God.
If we accept God’s invitation, and turn with our whole hearts, rather than standing condemned for our sins, they are forgiven. What that means is that everything that separates us from the wholehearted love of God is destroyed through the body and blood of Christ. Not only do we find salvation in that, we also find freedom. When we turn our hearts completely towards God, we are set free from the power of those things in this world that tend to rob of us of our life, rather than give us life.
The choice is always ours. God has already done his part. Will we respond to the wholehearted love of God by turning wholeheartedly TO God? That is where true life can only be found.