The Repentant Lifestyle
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
“Repentance.” It’s one of those great church-y words that we have, one that we can find throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and one that just sounds like it fits in a church service. But what exactly is it? Is it a thing we do? Is it a way we do things? Is it something else altogether? To answer simply, I’d suggest the answer is “yes” to all of the above.
Repentance is something that we “do,” in that when we are wrong, we are called to repent.
To repent is to “Turn Aside” or “Turn Around,” or quite literally to feel sorry (penitent) once more. Repentance is a turning of the heart, or will, away from what is wrong or evil to that which is good or pleasing to God. When we wrong others, whether it is the initial act that causes harm or the simmering anger that follows being wronged, we break down the relationships that God intended for us—first and foremost our relationship with Him, and secondarily (but still importantly) our relationships with those around us. Repentance can rightly be understood as the turning away from the wrong and back toward the good that God intends for us.
Repentance isn’t just a single thing that we do, it’s more than a simple smoothing over of hurt feelings. An apology can be an important part of repentance, but an apology without a change in the way things is just empty words. Repentance can be rightly understood as a process, or a sort of a journey from where we are to where we’d like to be. Another word we might use in the process of repentance is reconciliation.
I don’t think it’s a terrible stretch to say that we could all use a bit of repentance and reconciliation in our lives. Lent and Easter provides for us a nice shift from the normal rhythm of life to one that takes a bit more time for introspection, for reflection on where we may be in need of repentance in our lives. We have a good model for it, as well, because it is the message Christ preached during His earthly life. Even more importantly, it is the message that he, quite literally, embodied in His very being by living, suffering, dying, and rising for us. In so doing, He reconciled us to God Himself!
And that’s what true repentance is all about: JESUS. Truly being repentant and truly being able to turn away from sin, and turn toward God is something that is made possible to us only through Christ.
Our ability to seek repentance with our family, friends, and fellow members of the Body of Christ flows directly from the work and word of Christ in our lives! Just as our Lord opened the mind of His disciples, so also he works in our hearts and minds to bring about the desire for a godly turning from wrong to right, from evil to good.
As we walk together through this Easter season, I encourage you to take the opportunity to live a repentant lifestyle, one that seeks reconciliation with those who you live, work, and worship. And do so with the Joy of knowing that it is made possible to you all because your Redeemer lives! Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
By no means will we be able to right all the wrongs in the world, or fix all of the problems that may exist even in our midst, but as we start the process, as we begin the journey of repentance, we will be conforming ourselves to the image of Christ that is within each of us—following His example, and seeking His kingdom, even as we recognize that it is He who brings about this good work in us!
In the Peace and Joy of Our Living God,
Pastor Aaron Boerst