What shall we do?
There’s a difficulty in reading that question. You can guess what it is. The words themselves are as simple and straightforward as can be. A little child can understand them. But a mere printing of them conveys nothing of the tone. How is the question being asked? In boredom? Curiosity? Fear? Anguish? You can’t tell just by reading it.
Unless, that is, you find it imbedded in a story. Like the one I have in mind as I write this. Then you can tell. In the story to which I refer the question was put by a crowd of people to a man named Peter. And there’s no doubt whatsoever how people asked it. In fear and in anguish.
So what prompted it? Their wicked treatment of God’s Son Jesus. Without the least justification they had put him to death. It was the worst of crimes and the worst of blunders. And now the enormity of their action had come home to them. They had killed the very Saviour whom God had so lovingly sent to them. And though God had raised him from the dead and enthroned him in heaven, it was anything but a comfort. What could they expect from him after murdering him? Hence their anguished question: “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2.37).
Does all that seem remote from you? Don’t be so sure. Your hands are certainly not stained with Jesus’ blood. But have you refused him your love? Have you refused him your faith? Have you refused him your allegiance? Have you refused him your worship and obedience? If your answer to these questions is an honest ‘yes’, you need to do the very same thing that these people in our story did. You need to ask, “What shall I do?”
It is at this point that the clouds begin to part. How awful if Peter had had to say to the crowd, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing you can do. Your sin is too great to be forgiven”. But that is not what he said! And it is not God’s message for you either. Grave as your sin has been in rejecting Jesus (and it is far, far graver than you know), God graciously offers you forgiveness. First things first, however. Repentance. Peter called on his hearers to repent. It is God’s call to you as well. To repent.
Think of it as a forward movement. There is no possibility of going back. Much as you might wish to live life over and do things differently second time round, you know you can’t. And there’s no use staying where you are. That won’t make your guilt go away or bring you a single step nearer to God. No! There’s only one thing for you to do and that is to go forward, with God’s help, into a totally new life.
What kind of new life? One in which your relationship to Jesus, God’s Son, is the polar opposite of what it has been. A life in which he is no longer marginalized, hated, rejected. A life instead in which he is loved, served, believed in, worshiped and obeyed. Sound impossible? It is! But God can enable you both to begin such a life and to go on living it.
Go first and confess to him your sin. Then sincerely ask him for grace to go forward into this new Jesus-centered life. You may be sure that you will not seek him in vain.
And here’s something to encourage you. How the story ended. With the repentance of the people and God’s gracious gift of forgiveness. You repent of your sin and the end of the story will be exactly the same for you.