Jan. 18, 2018

Repentance

“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” How close is “at hand” the Kingdom is within us. μετάνοια (metanoia) is the Greek word that is used by Jesus, which literally means...'to think differently after'. 

However metanoia is more than just a Greek word in the Bible that has been terribly translated. Repent in English means regret atone, be sorry, be remorseful, and apologize. The Church has always maintained its original meaning; in fact metanoia has acquired a much deeper meaning. Repentance is not remorse, and it is certainly not guilt. Repentance is a transformation of a person. A change of mind that is accompanied by change of conduct, “a change of mind and heart", or, “a change of consciousness".

One of the key descriptions of repentance in the New Testament is the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11, Truth and life are found in a proper relationship with the living God, the vast majority of what God is trying to teach us must be experienced in order to begin to understand let alone talk about or teach someone else, and even then we cannot define exactly what we are wanting to communicate. Repentance is an ongoing perpetual desire for more Christness in our life.

It is not a dreaded encounter with the priest who forces you to come to confession at least four times a year. If we do not want to repent then we really do not want Christ.

Repentance is voluntary; no one not even God will ever force us to repent. True repentance is impossible without true confession and true confession is impossible without true repentance. It is important to know that the Greek for confession, exomologesis, im­plies not only confession but also thanksgiving (cf. Matthew 11.25; Luke 10.21): "I shall confess/give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, and tell of all His wonders" (Psalm 9.1).

But what do I say; Repent of what? Repent for not believing that the kingdom is “at hand.”  If we think repentance is making a list of unacceptable behaviors and confessing them before God and His designated witness, then we have much room to grow. The laundry list as I call it is a superficial indication of what lies deep down in our soul as Jesus taught on the sermon of the mount.

The laundry list is a good start but we must mature in our relationship with Christ and our willingness to say no to ourselves or we will never root out the passion that is killing our soul, or arrive at the place that we really want to go; to the Kingdom.

We have been taught and believed the propaganda that the kingdom is somewhere else off in the future, that there is a safe distance between us and the kingdom, that there is enough time in life for us to live a life that is based; well on us. The life we live doesn’t have to take the kingdom into consideration just yet. These are all lies from the deceiver.

Jesus did not come to bring the kingdom; we believe He came to reveal the Kingdom’s eternal presence. We see the kingdom everywhere. That is the beginning of our transformation and then we begin to experience that the Kingdom of heaven is within us (Lk 17:20-21).

The root of our problem Is sin, hamartia is another Greek word that means missing the mark, and translated into English as sin; the mark we are aiming for is Christ. If we are not living the exact same life that Christ lived and is living still then we are in need of repentance, of change.

Much of Christianity today teaches that sin is no longer our problem, Jesus paid it all. He did pay it all but we must willing to obey the will of God (Mt 6:12). A branch off that root is thinking that we somehow did not inherit this falleness. Just believing in Jesus is not enough to undo the fall. Repentance is not just going from more sin to less sin or thinking that change is impossible after all I’m fallen what can I do? There is a revealed standard that our repentance is aimed at. The revealed standard is not a laundry list of things not to do. The revealed standard we follow is Christ and His body the Church. Be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48).

At first glance the standard does not seem to be very specific. A lot of people claim to be Christian. Make no mistake there is a ‘right mind’; there is a ‘right heart’; there is a ‘right direction’. We are not turning around for the sake of going in different, random direction. We do not change our hearts to match our society. We do not change our mind in order to simply have a new perspective—just to get out of a rut. Jesus said that he was the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6).

Repentance is corporate and it is also very personal in the same breath, it is an attitude of the heart, as Jesus taught in the beatitudes, a way of life that needs to be nurtured and cultivated until our last breath. It can be physically felt by the soul that is in harmony with Christ. Only the pure in heart will see God (Mt 5:8).

The church is a hospital for sick souls. Jesus said that he came to heal the sick, The church is now his body to do the work of God. Sometimes the sickest patients are the ones who do not know they are ill. We think confession is only for those rare situations when we really did something bad. It is that of course but more than that; repentance is for declaring our intention to follow Christ completely.

If our thoughts, our actions and even our very being is not a perfectly clear reflection of Christ, we need to clean the smudges. This should take place every day. We must be on guard though; To be alert at all times as Scripture teaches. There are books written about church etiquette. But the church is not interested in changing our life in order to conform to a lifeless rule. The only goal the church has in mind is conforming our life to Christ. Everything is given for a reason. There is truth is this gesture. Christ is in this gesture. And so it is with fasting, singing or chanting, bowing, and everything else. If Christ is not at the heart of every action and thought then we have room for repentance.

Our job is not to reveal the minor ways our brother or sister have missed the mark. Our job is to take each other by the hand and demonstrate to them what it is like live in the presence of Christ and ask for others to forgive us of our sins against them. The closer we get to Christ, the more humble we become. The more experience in church liturgy and etiquette we have, the more gentle we become. The more a crying baby brings a smile instead of a frown, the more our church will grow. Where God is; there is the kingdom; and God is everywhere present and filing all things. Repentance is a change of mind from believing that God is not everywhere, that He is only where we want Him to be, to believing that He is not only everywhere but that He is especially in the places we do not want Him to know about.

This Sacrament called repentance is not created by the participant or the minister, but by God who heals our illnesses and wounds. It is not a matter of being let of the hook in a legal sense; it has the force of healing, of making us whole. Since repentance is a gift from God then we must be open to receive it, and learn to receive it: "Let us apply to ourselves this saving medicine; let us ac­cept this gift from God. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is within us.

 

(Used on this website by permission of The Dragon Slayer)