Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Repentance Means Change

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2).
The "X" above is a "kairos" such as in Mark 1:15, "The kairos (time) is here..."
This coming Sunday the churches that we're partnering with are continuing a series that began last week.  They will move deeper into a series on family life.  As I've been studying the scriptures and praying over what direction the Lord is leading us, I'm believing that I am called to do something a bit different.

Even though I'm sure a series on family life would be a blessing, I'm going to get off that particular path for now because I believe God is calling us make a turn, to move in a different direction, to, in fact, spend a bit more time on the Biblical "shape" we've been working on, that is, the Circle.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Circle represents God's call to "Repent and Believe."  (For more on this, see Enter the Circle.)

But the Circle applies not only to "repentance" in the sense of turning away from what we normally THINK of as sin.

It DOES apply to that, of course.  Repenting of something that is clearly against God's commandments and God's will IS a part, an important part, of what the Circle is about.

When we sin, God's call is to turn from the sinful path and believe God's Good News--the good news of forgiveness--the good news that allows us to start over with a clean slate and begin to live in a new and more godly way.

That's "repentance as we know it."

There is another kind of repentance, however.  This other sense isn't closely connected with specific sins that need to be confessed.  Instead, it's a change of mind, a change of heart.* 

One can see this, for example, in Jesus' parable story of the "two sons," one of whom first rebels and then changes his mind and does what his father told him to do (Matthew 21:28-32).

Another example: The people who were transformed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the New Testament were not changed by just confessing particular sins.  Their minds were changed about everything in their whole life.  They began listening to a new master, a new shepherd, a new Lord.

Repentance isn't just about saying "I'm sorry" for this or that.  It's a change deep on the inside that affects the outside.  Repentance is change that continues throughout our lifetimes.  By the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we are made over... over and over again... made over to be more and more like our Lord.

It's in that sense of the word repent that we "turn."  We change.  Instead of being stubborn we consider what it is that God might be saying to us.  We're willing to listen.  We don't stop up our ears and wear blinders.  We say, okay.  We say, I'll think about that.  We don't just plod ahead.  We don't wait to be necessarily convicted of a particular sin.  We allow God to change us from the inside out.

Don't just be "conformed."  Allow God to transform you.  Don't just go on and on with your life.  Pray and ask him to intervene today, and then, with other Christians, pray and consider what changes God is calling for in your heart and in your life.  And then act in faith.  Believe me--God knows best.


* Clear evidence that "repentance" isn't just about sin is found in the Old Testament where we see even God "repenting!"  This does not mean that God sinned and needed to say he was sorry.  No.  Instead, this is "repent" in the sense of doing something different than what had been expected. See, for example, Exodus 32:12-14; Psalm 106:45; Isaiah 57:6; Jeremiah 4:28; 18:8; 26:3, 13, 19; Ezekiel 24:14; Joel 2:13; Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 4:2.  God "repents" or "changes his mind" about punishment when people repent of their sin.

NOTE:  The Lord calls us to "enter the circle" of repentance and change by bringing us to kairos moments.  More about those moments can be found by clicking the word kairos.

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