Repentance

Dear Fellow-Disciple:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14,15)

Repentance is not a particularly popular subject. It is often overlooked or ignored, and rarely dealt with in the dimension of its utmost importance.

Some people enter the Christian life like a flash of lightning, white-hot and dazzling with steam and energy. But a few months later the enthusiasm and vigor are gone. Occasionally we may witness someone so excited he is unable to sit still in a bible study. He prays like a zealot and amazes us with the deep revelation he receives from Scripture.

Then we lose track of him for a while. Eventually, we see him in a restaurant. He tells us he has fallen away. He is back in the world of sinful indulgence. He knows it is wrong, he knows he has to change, but at the moment he can't bring himself to make the commitment.

We may agonize about these people who absorb the Word in their heads but don't give it a chance to get into their hearts. People who have been Christians longer than we, may fit into that category. We shouldn't agonize about them, they are the product of their own decisions. Their condition is between themselves and the Lord. Our job is to pray for them.

The reason for the problem experienced by these people, whether new Christians or old, is that there has been no real repentance. There may have been a legitimate emotional experience and a sincere desire for a life-change, but desire without decision simply isn't enough.

Repentance requires a burning bridge that leaves no return access. It is more than a redirection of our thoughts, more than just refocusing on the Word and getting back to basics.

To be really successful, repentance incorporates a fundamental change in our mind-set. Without that fundamental change, repentance doesn't take place. Instead, we have a watered down commitment that provides a short term gloss or veneer or whitewash. We experience only a brief pause in the long term decline of our relationship with God.

Sooner or later a moment of truth comes to those who refuse to repent. Their earlier decisions have had a permanent effect. Eventually they pass beyond their ability to repent. Their hearts slowly harden and scales slowly grow over their eyes, and a decision about redirection becomes impossible.

"Faith without works is dead," said James. That was not a religious platitude, it was a statement of fact.

A disciple has an intense and active desire to turn 180 degrees and face God, face to face, truth to truth. Our masks must be destroyed. We learn that when we confess our faults to another disciple he isn't repelled, he's drawn closer. Frequently, the more painful or embarrassing our past, the greater our acceptance and respect from others.

Repentance requires confession, followed by a deliberate decision to burn the bridge. Repentance eliminates the possibility of turning back. Feeling sorry is superficial. Desire to change is one-dimensional; decision to change is everything.

For the disciple, repentance comes with the territory.

Jesus is King!

P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?

Question for today: In what area of my life do I need to repent?