March 16, 2022
Return to the Cross: Repentance
Let’s play a little word association game. I’ll say a word, and then you say aloud the first thing that comes to mind. Spring: ____________. Easter: ______________. Repentance: _____________. I’m sure the first two were easy enough; perhaps even enjoyable. How about the last one? Repentance is a word that often carries negative connotations with it. Let’s explore why that might be. For some, repentance means judgement. For others, it means guilt and condemnation. I’ve had such thoughts about repentance too, but I want to tell you repentance is a beautiful and necessary part of our journey as we return to the cross.
In the Greek, repent is translated as metanoeó. Strong’s Concordance defines it in the following way: to change one’s mind or position. This is helpful as it shows that repentance leads to a larger transformation of our soul that is necessary during Lent because let’s face it… There are many ideas, thoughts, patterns, etc. that we are stuck in. We have the tendency to develop a “preferred method” of living that benefits us. We then put up blinders to other ways to live life and fail to evaluate if our way truly is the best way.
Repentance is something Jesus puts squarely before others during his earthly ministry. When Jesus speaks about repentance, it’s typically within the imperative. “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15). Jesus employs everyone to evaluate their lifestyle in light of God’s will. Where does our will match His? Where do we differ? The differences from our will versus God’s will can be subtle or obvious, unconscious or intentional. A common word to describe such differences is “sin.” Sin causes us to live in contradiction to God’s will, and Jesus is forthright in his desire for us to remove sin from our lives. Why? Jesus knows that only when we live in alignment with God’s will can we be fulfilled, contented, and fully alive. Therefore, he has no problem whatsoever in asking people to repent and change their minds. It’s the only way they can have the life God desires for them! Jesus’s call for our repentance is only an extension of his love for us!
I want all of us to evaluate our lives carefully in light of God’s good news. Where might you need to repent of your sin? This requires not only honesty but also the willingness to change your life once you identify areas where your ways are different than God’s. I know this is a challenge. Change always comes with discomfort, but I also know this… When we are pure in heart, we will see God (Matthew 5:8). We all need that in these days; especially as Easter Sunday and the empty tomb approaches. There is no better place for self-evaluation than the cross of Jesus Christ. We need to return there for repentance. We need to change our minds and ways! I’ll say it again, if you want to embrace the empty tomb, you must return to the cross.
See you Sunday!