I will be posting this devotional series as part of my Eastertide reflections for the next three weeks (see this link for other installments in the series). Each week of this devotional series focuses on a specific theme (week one: brokenness, week two: repentance, and week three: renewal). I hope you’ll enjoy the series and I invite you to comment here on the blog or email me direct; I would love to hear your thoughts.
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. ”The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Today we transition our focus to a new week and theme centered on the idea of repentance. I don’t know if everyone has had the same experience as I have, but for many years of my life I had an inaccurate understanding of what repentance meant. Because of my misunderstanding, not only did my faith flounder, but the overall experience of my Christian journey was rather miserable. Fortunately, a few years back I went through a series of studies that helped me get a more accurate view of what repentance involves. Now, my experience as a disciple of Jesus is much more life-giving.
In the circles I have traveled, the word “repent” has been one of those words used almost exclusively in the world of Christian faith. I don’t think I can recall a time or place I have heard it used otherwise. My previous understanding of repent or repentance was based on context clues of how the word was used. The resulting definition I came up with was that it meant for me to feel bad about the things I did that God didn’t like. The seemingly appropriate and accompanying action to this feeling was for me to tell God I was sorry and ask Him to forgive me. Most of the Christians I hung out with and went to church with pretty much believed or supported the same idea or so it seemed that way to me.
The problem I began to realize about this way of understanding repentance is that it didn’t change my life much, it just made me feel bad about my life most of the time. It seemed I was forever feeling bad about myself and always asking God to forgive me for doing things He didn’t like… until I realized my view of repentance was all wrong.
What I learned about repentance is this; it meant much more than feeling bad about the things I did. I found out the actual definition meant for me to “change my mind.” The resulting action of “changing my mind” would be to do things differently or to “turn” and live my life by “moving” in a new direction. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but it was like the light bulb turned on in my head. As I began making conscious decisions about the choices and direction of my life, choosing to follow the way of Jesus instead of the “way of me,” my Christian experience began to be a more positive experience. The perfect love of God began to cast out my fear… guilt and shame went with it.
Have you always had a “right” view of repentance? Do you struggle with choices and direction in your life that leave you with feelings of guilt, shame, and fear?
Our Prayer: Jesus, you told us to “repent” and “believe,” but at times I have struggled with both. I have failed to fully understand repentance and my ability to follow you whole-heartedly has suffered because of it. I pray You will help me to “change my mind” about the choices I make that do not take me in Your direction. It is my desire to learn to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. I know repentance is a big part of my ability to succeed in this desire. Amen.