October 25, 2010
Dr. Louima Lilite said when he was asked to share a message on the chapter “The Perfect Penitent” from the book, “Mere Christianity,” he began by defining the words “perfect” and “penitent.” He found that perfect means “flawless and ideal,” and penitent means “latent with remorse, feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing.”
Lilite shared his message with students as part of a weekly chapel service on Wednesday, Oct. 20. Lilite, who serves as assistant professor of music at OBU, based his message on this year’s chapel theme, “A Return to the Simplicity of the Gospel.”
The world is full of opposites from what God intended, Lilite said. When God says “no,” people say, “yes.” In this society of opposites, Lilite explained “perfect” should describe Christ. However, he said, “perfect” is a word people use too commonly and playfully now, and it has lost its true meaning. “Penitent” is a word people normally do not use in daily life, yet it is what should describe humans.
Romans 3:23 was a focal passage for the message: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Lilite said C.S. Lewis noted, due to our depravity, the only way we can have fellowship with God is through Jesus Christ, whom He sent to earth to be as one with people.
“The mere presence of Christ in the world for 33 years was enough to make a difference,” Lilite said.
He explained how even as a baby and young man, Jesus made a difference by bridging the socioeconomic divide by bringing together peasants, shepherds and royals. As he grew, he healed the sick, made company with the rejected and continually extended grace. In doing this, Jesus not only made a difference while he was on Earth, but also for eternity due to the sacrifice he gave in his death.
“It was necessary for Jesus to be the one to go through that gruesome death because only He could perfectly undergo the fullness of God’s wrath,” Lilite said.
Jesus acted as the perfect penitent –- the only perfect one who could take on the wrath of human sin –- because God required a flawless vessel to enact justice, Lilite said. Christ was the only one who could fulfill the role. Christians’ response, then, should be to offer prayer with words of praise and repentant confession.
“Are you willing to surrender your rights and repent, or are you going to continue hiding your sins?” Lilite asked the students.
If Christians keep hiding their sins, their testimonies and spiritual life will be hindered, he said.
Lilite closed with a song of repentance. The song, which Lilite wrote and performed, was titled “From Ashes to Beauty.”
“That is what God is in the business of: transformation from ashes to beauty,” he said.