Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
Today, the thought ‘repent and be saved’ for some reason entered my brain and stayed there for a few moments. Whoa! Did I have a really good time last night that this morning I don’t remember? Many years ago that would have been a legitimate concern when I staggered home and to bed in a black out too drunk to remember how I got home. But today I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke weed. Yes, I still screw up and do unspiritual things, but now I have a memory to remind me that amends and corrections need to be made.
When I sat down to my blog, I googled “repent and be saved.” The first entry was this:
Before anyone can be saved, they need to come to the realization that they’re sinners and believe that Jesus died and rose again so their sins could be forgiven. That is what the phrase “repent and be saved” means. Therefore, when we’ve asked Jesus to be our savior, the repenting has been done.
Ohhhh, I would love to pick this apart, but I’ll focus on the word repent. What does that conjure up in your mind? Yeah, me too. I am totally unworthy of living on this earth because I am an immoral piece of human flesh who is absolutely devoid of any redeeming qualities which would satisfy the white-haired, fire-breathing, judgmental old man sitting in heaven with lightning bolts in hand ready to zap me for being a human failure. If I don’t repent I’ll never be a part of the heaven crowd.
The implication of the word repent is moralistic. It is used far too often by preachers and religionists intent on controlling a gullible audience being primed to swallow their particular brand of theology. Some of the church-goers in my past drank like I did, lied like I did, cheated like I did, repented and got themselves saved and felt assured of a place beside Jesus in heaven. They continued on with a life of drunkenness, lies, and cheating. Didn’t change a thing about themselves, but they claimed they were saved by the blood of Jesus. Yeah, OK. I’ve got some swamp land down here in Florida that’s going to be prime beach front real estate in a few years. Interested?
We know that the scriptures which comprise our New Testament were translated from ancient writings composed during the first 2 centuries following the walk of Jesus, the Christ, on this earth. They were written in Greek. In subsequent translations of the original manuscripts, the Greek word metanoia was translated as repent. The word repent lent a more powerful, moralistic connotation for a budding Roman Catholic church intent on religious and political control.
If you have a Concordance, look it up. The Greek metanoia also means “to change.” For me this was a game-changer. I am no longer being judged; rather, I am being challenged. I am being urged to change my mind about life, about Jesus, about God, about me. And it is not a once and done deal. This will be an ongoing, everyday process growing into the example presented to me – Jesus, the Christ. Paul is attributed the book of Romans. In it he writes in chapter 12, verse 2:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Remember what Jesus said to the woman accused of adultery facing stoning at the hands of the scribes and Pharisees? In their eyes she had committed a grave sin and deserved death by stoning. In Jesus’ mind she had done wrong just as every man standing there had also erred. They were made to realize that none were perfect. One by one the accusing scribes and Pharisees left until there were only Jesus and the woman. He did not condemn her nor throw moral judgement on her. He simply told her to go and not make the same mistakes again. He told her to change her life.
Mark 1:15 quotes Jesus as saying:
The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.
Change your thinking and believe the good news.