Re-thinking Re-pentance

The other day I read a sentence from the mouth of Jesus’ cousin.  His name is  John, you might call him John the Baptist.  When JB showed up people rushed to go see him.  He reminded them of Elijah, another heavy hitting preacher from their history.  His message was… “get ready, God’s about to do something.”

For those hearing these words it must have seemed like a dream come true.  After all, the guy who reminded everyone of Elijah was now telling them to get ready.  You see, for over 400 years there had been no prophet in Israel.  400 years of silence.  400 years of heaven not speaking to earth.  400 years of forgottenness.  Then, bursting onto the scene in his Elijah suit, JB tells the people to get ready for God by repenting.

Imagine you had not seen a friend for a long time and when you finally reconnect after many attempts on your part, the first thing they say to you is REPENT!  Sweet!  So how are you doing?  Good, missed you… REPENT.  It seems almost comical.

When I hear the word repent, I imagine some screaming preacher or some guy holding up a sign with angry flame looking letters that spell repent.  Repent is a word that just sounds angry doesn’t it?  REPENT!!! It just needs a few exclamation points.

Here is a thought I have drifting around my brain holder.  Repent is certainly a word that needs to be backed up with emotion, but what if the emotion was sorrow?  What if when we used the word we were sad and not angry?  Does that change how you see the word?  What if it were grace?  Imagine if repent was spoken in a gracious tone.  What if the word, repent, was given as an invitation to come instead of a command to grovel?

“Will you repent… your life is not going well.”  “If you want your life to be different you need to go a different direction.”  That is actually what the word repent means, to turn and go the other way; to turn from one thing to another.  The command to repent could very well be THE invitation to life… “come this way” Jesus said. ” Turn around and come to me and I will give you rest.  Repent and I will give you rest.”

I am not so good at repenting.  I am much better at admitting I blew it, but not nearly as good at changing directions.  Worse yet, I far too often settle for admitting over repenting because repenting has such a raw and angry feel.  I cannot muster up the tears or terror so I feel like my repentance is fake.  But when I see repentance as an invitation from God to return to Him, I get a new perspective.  So what does repentance bring?

John said that we should bear fruit that is in keeping with repentance.  In the angry, red faced world of “REPENT” this has often been understood as tears and sorrow.  What if it means something altogether different.  Something like joy!  “Repent, get off the dark and scary path and walk in the light.  Enjoy the freedom truth brings.  Live in deep connection to your Heavenly Father.”  For me, bearing the fruit of repentance means to fill my mind with something different, to change my attitude by renewing my mind.  For me it means to act differently and to walk a better path.  This is the fruit of repentance and this fruit brings joy.  Just a few thoughts so SMILE! We get to repent.  Off… we go now.

~ by OFF we go now on July 6, 2010.

4 Responses to “Re-thinking Re-pentance”

  1. Loved this. Thank you for this gentle and needed reminder. By God’s grace, I shall now go a different direction.

  2. Exactly! Repentance is not sorrow and tears and guilt and grief over sins. Nor is it turning your back on all sin. It is just as you say – an invitation to turn to Jesus, think differently than before: i.e. believe that Jesus paid for our sins and gives us eternal life, and stop believing that “my actions” bring me righteousness or closer to God. Only God’s grace draws us to Him, gives us salvation – if we only believe.

  3. hi your idea of repentance sounds good but is it plausible? the bible was not written in english language but greek and the greek says meta(change) noia(mind) thus meaning change of one’s mind-thus metanoia towards sin is change your mind regarding sin that you in Christ are dead to it. simple!

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