I wonder what you think of when you hear the word ‘repentance’? People in tears? Brokenness? Misery? Sin?
Jesus began his ministry with the words “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15. Similarly, on the day of Pentecost, Peter calls people to: “Repent and be baptised… in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Acts 2:38-39
Repentance is the choice to turn away from evil and return to God. As in the story of the prodigal son, God is asking us to return to Him, and, like the father in the parable, He wants to welcome us back with open arms.
As I’ve been pondering repentance, I’ve started to see it as a positive choice, which may sometimes involve grief and tears, but is actually first and foremost about healing our relationships: firstly with God, and then with each other.
To respond to the invitation to salvation extended to us by Jesus’ death on the cross, we need to repent. Repentance is a gateway:
1. Repentance opens the door to greater intimacy with our heavenly Father
2. Repentance is the path to freedom (knowing the truth, sets us free)
3. Repentance leads to joy (‘Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.’ Psalm 126:5)
4. Repentance is also a lifestyle. God reveals one at a time the sins He wants us to be free from. This is conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, which frees us more and more, rather than condemnation, which makes us feel guilty and ashamed all the time.
As we allow God to purify our hearts, we ourselves are healed, our relationships with others are healed, and, as we cry out to God, our nation can also be healed. their sin and will heal their land.
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14