….Kingdom of God is near. Words from Jesus.
What first comes to mind when you hear the word “repent?” It probably depends on your background doesn’t it? You might hear it with a heavy southern drawl being angrily yelled. Or…you might hear a street preacher with a bullhorn. Or maybe you don’t have any of that baggage and you haven’t heard the word much at all. It is a bit out of vogue after all…
But Jesus said it quite a bit. Scholars way smarter than I (which is almost everyone) say that it is probably better translated as:
1. Do a 180 degree u-turn.
2. Rethink your life.
3. Adopt a whole new outlook on life.
I like all of those. They seem consistent with what Jesus would and did say in other places as well. I can imagine him pleading with a soft voice to the crowds and a bit harsher voice with the religious leaders, “Come on guys. Stop going that way and come enter my kingdom. Follow me. Your burden is heavy and mine is light. Your way ends in ultimate death, whereas mine ends in ultimate life. Turn around. You have no idea how good it is for you if you follow me instead of your current path.”
But today the word “repent” is confused with “stop sinning.” Sin is an interesting thought – another term not used a lot these days. And “repenting of sin” is an interesting bit of doctrine. Let’s look at something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
God says several things about our sin:
1. He throws them as far as the east is from the west. I’m pretty sure the east and west don’t actually connect – so that’s – forever.
2. He says he “remembers them no more.”
3. If you are “in Christ” then your sins are covered by his death and resurrection (some pretty good news) and so God can’t/doesn’t see them any more.
So….it’s pretty clear that God can’t or chooses not to see our sin. Or even know that we sin. Or somehow “forgets” our sins.
So when we’re “repenting of our sins” are we reminding God that we sinned? Is it for our own benefit to repent of them?
Or….are we using that word and concept wrongly? Maybe to repent simply means to turn back towards God. “The Kingdom of Heaven is here.” Another place Jesus says “…it’s upon you.” In another place he says “….it’s within you.” And he also says that the “Kingdom of heaven is near you.”
Near. Upon. Within. Here. Maybe “repenting” is recognizing that through Jesus this is true. We forget that – so we need to repent. Turn. Recognize. Accept and receive.
But being sorry for our sins….well, not so sure that is what “repent” actually means. A big thought. What are yours?