So last time I talked a bit about repentance, what religious repentance and comfort blanket repentance is, and what it all says about how we see God. We saw the lie of the religious God, a God we have to impress and be in terror of, and the fallacy of saying sorry merely to help us sleep at night.
We began a journey which led to the final part of this discussion, the underlying purpose of these reflections.
What is real repentance? Why should we repent?
What is the purpose of repentance?
I was sitting at home praying, saying sorry to God, asking Him to help me change in a particular area – and I suddenly had this thought.
“Why am I doing this? What does this do?
I believe in a God of grace, love, mercy, justice and forgiveness, who has reconciled us all to Him through Jesus on the cross. I don’t follow the religious, tyrant God.
So if that’s the case,
what is repentance all about? Why do I repent?
It began to dawn on me that this wasn’t simply about God. This was about me. God wasn’t simply interested in my saying sorry so He would forgive me.
He wasn’t solely interested in – and didn’t even need – the empty ritual.
I began to see that God was actually more interested the ongoing process of my discipleship.
Then it dawned on me.
Repentance doesn’t have anything to do with saying sorry. To think that is totally to miss the point.
True repentance is about transformation and relationship.
Our transformation into how God originally made us to be. Growing deeper in our relationship with Him.
It’s about coming more in the shalom, the rhythm of God.
God wants us to repent not because He wants or needs us to say sorry, not to satisfy His anger toward us, not out of duty and not to save us burning in hell.
He wants us to repent because He wants us to be transformed, to be changed more into the shape He designed for us
and, ultimately, because He wants a proper relationship with us.
He wants to heal those areas we struggle. He wants to strip us down and deal with the things that block us from having full relationship with Him. He wants to fully engage with us and with our struggles.
The addictions, the bad attitudes, the anger we have toward people. The unspoken thoughts we shouldn’t have but do. Anything that is out of sync with how God wants us to live.
True repentance is about transformation and healing – and its a process, it’s not something that happens all at once, and is over instantly.
It’s something we do. Part of our relationship with God.
This is why repentance is so important to anyone who wants to follow the way of Jesus. It is the very process we enter into to become a disciple, to orientate our lives around Jesus, to transform our rhythm to God’s rhythm, to discover the shalom of God in our lives.
Repentance is discipleship.
This process begins the moment we recognise we are living out of sync with God’s way, we are disconnected from Him in some way, that we are living in a way which increases this disconnection, which doesn’t bring love into the world.
Once we understand this, the response is up to us.
We can choose to keep on living this way. Or we can choose to submit ourselves to the way of God, to receive the forgiveness that is already ours through the cross of Jesus which reconciled all things to God.
We can invite Him into our lives and allow Him to transform us.
We submit ourselves to the process.
We go deeper into relationship with God.
Repentance brings healing and restoration – between us and God, and between one another.
Repentance restores and deepens relationship.
When we repent to one other, when we admit we’ve hurt people we know and ask their forgiveness, this process is mirrored in our relationship with that individual.
Of course, part of the ongoing process of discipleship and repentance is going back to God regularly and confessing other ways you’ve been living out of tune with His rhythm.
It’s vital in those moments to recognise what we do as part of an ongoing process of being shaped more into the person we were designed to be.
To see it as part of our journey of discipleship, and going deeper in relationship with the divine.
So let us not see repentance as a religious ritual to please a tyrant God. Not as something we do to make ourselves feel safe and secure.
Instead, let us understand and embrace true repentance:
A doorway into transformation, healing and restoration.
An opportunity to go deeper in our relationship with the creator, and be shaped more into the image He designed for us.
Now time for you to join the discussion!
– Do you agree with me?
– What do you think repentance is?
– What is your experience of repentance?
– How has repentance transformed your life and impacted your relationship with God?
James Prescott (@JamesPrescott77) is a writer & creative living in Sutton, near London in the UK. He blogs regularly at www.jamesprescott.co.uk on issues concerning social media, gender and the divine journey of life. He is currently working on an e-book exploring the links between the divine & the digital. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77
James Prescott (@JamesPrescott77) is a writer & creative living in Sutton, near London in the UK.
He blogs regularly at www.jamesprescott.co.uk on issues concerning social media, gender and the divine journey of life. He is currently working on an e-book exploring the links between the divine & the digital.
Follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77
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