Monday, June 8, 2015

Repentance: The Other Side of the Coin

Last week, I wrote here about the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a vital, ongoing part of life as a follower of Jesus. There is another side to that coin. Along with being people who are known for forgiveness, we are called to be folks who are known for repentance.

Repentance is one of those concepts that we sometimes have a hard time defining. It is definitely one of those things that we have a hard time doing. Repentance is usually defined as being sorry for our sins. That is part of it, however I believe being people of repentance and creating a culture of repentance in our communities calls us to go much further. Of course, this is just my belief, although I am convinced that it is informed by Scripture. Your results may vary.

The Greek word "metanoeo," usually translated "repent" means to change one's mind, or to turn away from. It is turning away from a way of thinking and acting that brings death and turning to life. Jesus told people to turn from their way of thinking about the kingdom of God and turn to God`s way, the way of the Messiah. The Sermon on the Mount lays out the essentials of the kingdom way of life.

When I look at the way Jesus calls us to live I see a life of repentance. We need to repent and turn away from sins we commit or from heart attitudes that are not pleasing to God. I would contend that there will be times when we need to turn away from words and actions that may hurt or offend someone, even if there is not sin involved, and even if the hurt was inadvertant. We are told to do everything we can to live at peace with others. Jesus said that we are to go to anyone we know has something against us, even if that means leaving religious duties. He also tells us that we are to be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. In our relationships, we are to be smart and awake to the effect we have on others and be harmless in our dealings.

I believe that we should be known as people who are quick to repent and even quicker to forgive. Our churches and communities should be known as communities of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, fueled by the mutual, sacrificial love of Christ. Think of what that would look like!

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