Friday, June 5, 2009

True Repentance

In the New Testament John the Baptist and Jesus both inaugurate their place on the timeline of life and Kingdom purpose by including a word that is so often left out of our religious vernacular. Usually because we just don’t know or understand the real meaning of the word.

I’m no Greek scholar (that’s my brother-in-law Jac Perrin), but a simple understanding of the word in context can clarify our need for its use and application in many if not all areas of our lives.

Many people repent over the course of a lifetime. And most of the time it has little to do with God or their eternal destination.

Let me note the definition of repentance: to change one's mind, i.e. to repent; to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins.

"Repentance (metanoia, 'change of mind') involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness." (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)

Let me elaborate on this matter that seems all too often like a bitter pill for many to swallow.

People all over the planet and all through human history have lived out the practice of repentance. How many of us have “changed our minds” for the better? Maybe we’ve changed jobs, changed relationships, changed our worldview on matters of conscience, and even changed brands despite long term loyalties to one product over another. Why?

Because we’re all looking for an upgrade and that upgrade only comes when we change our thinking about our present condition. Some might argue that they are content in all areas of their life and they aspire to no change or improvements, but I would suggest that by our very embrace of technology and lifestyle improvements, we’re all hooked like a first time crack user.

Whether it’s any of the things I’ve mentioned above or a myriad of other things we face in life, change happens and especially in our minds. And most of the time we’re not conscious of the progression.

Because thinking affects behavior, biblical sin begins with thinking that does not reflect God’s heart or mind. Granted, none of us could match God’s thinking prowess nor the depths of His heart, but because we are created (Imago Dei sorry I just like those words) in His image we are designed to be like Him.

When we stray from our original design and purpose (relationship with the Designer) therein emerges the element of sin. Make sense?

Because none of us can fully know Truth (until we meet Truth face to face) all we have is a collage of facts, ergo the joy and frustration of science and religion. Neither the greatest scientist nor the greatest theologian can fully get their minds around ALL the facts. Therefore, no one has cornered the market. Real Truth is the ability to know the beginning and the end. That is simply impossible for the human heart or mind to comprehend. All we can do is string together bits and pieces of facts (and even those can be suspect) then throw the dice and hope we don’t discover something that would cause us to repent of our thinking on previously held sacred ground.

If and when that happens, I mean the reassessment and realignment of our thinking on any matter for the better, we have repented. For this I have no fear. And I would challenge each of you readers to embrace the same.

Let me end with this. Ever wonder about the proliferation of gambling? People are looking for the ultimate upgrade. Despite the facts that the house always wins, people still gamble.

Facts have not ultimately stopped stupid human behavior nor have they raised the incidence of wisdom. Yet historically mankind has always sought for an upgrade. May I suggest that we all repent? Change our thinking. Come into alignment with the facts as we know them and fill in the gaps with faith. We cannot prove God’s existence, but we can marvel at the facts as presented and wonder with awe at the mysteries unexplained. And we cannot disprove God’s existence either, because the beauty of science is the use of a hypothesis. Of which leads us to the next hypothesis, and the next and the next and the next.

See the pattern? Repentance IS the fabric of advance, and in my case, the ultimate goal of reconnecting with God and living by His original design. When I’m wrong, deep in my heart I want to change. But entropy of the soul keeps me unrepentant. That’s when my faith in Jesus and what He came to do, kicks in.

As it stands, I’ve spent most of my life experiencing change of thinking for the better. When gaps exist in the continuum of facts, we tend to throw in theories (faith). My theory (an old and historic one) God IS and I’m not and Jesus is the Christ (the designed answer to fill in the gaps between the facts) and I want to know and experience Him as much as I possibly can… because I still want an upgrade. Don’t you?

Metanoia to All

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