The world considers the word “repent” as the most dirty things Christians say. Most people would cringe at the mention of that word because we often picture out a street preacher angrily shouting out to bystanders how sinful and hell-worthy they are when we hear someone say it.
But is repentance really that ugly? No, it’s not. It’s only ugly because it’s completely misunderstood. I’m not sure whether it’s because the world is not listening or because Christians aren’t communicating it properly. But when we truly grasp the meaning, opportunity and essence that repentance presents, we will see it as the most beautiful thing and not a filthy word that makes us leave the building.
Sadly society has turned repentance into a reason for revolt, and that’s not something new. For so long repentance has been a hard pill to swallow. I am reminded of the rich young ruler who sadly left Jesus’ presence after presented with an opportunity to follow Jesus because it would cost him his money and possessions. (Mark 10:17-27)
Repentance is something that the masses do not readily accept because it is expensive and it will hurt. But just because the masses don’t see the beauty in it, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful. It was William of Malmesbury who once said “Vox populi, vox dei,” which translates to “The voice of the people [is] the voice of God.” But is popular opinion always necessarily right?
I like the thoughts of the late Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and a strong Presbyterian believer. He said: “The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true to fact. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge or determine right.”
Whether we take the road to repentance of the road of the repetition of sin, it will ultimately lead to the same thing. It will lead to grief. But the grief that both lead to are different in that they produce different results.
If we apply that to the concept of repentance, we see that the true reason that people don’t like repentance is not because it’s not beautiful, but because of an observation that made the late genius Steve Jobs billions of dollars- people don’t know what they want.
Whether we take the road to repentance of the road of the repetition of sin, it will ultimately lead to the same thing. It will lead to grief. But the grief that both lead to are different in that they produce different results. 2 Corinthians 7:10 identifies these two kinds of grief:
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
When we refuse to repent, we are born into worldly grief. Nothing changes, but that’s the problem in itself. Our habits don’t change, but neither does the situation that you badly want to get out of. But when we embrace the painful yet beautiful reality that is repentance, it leads to godly grief which changes not only our habits, but our current circumstance and eternal fate.
When we understand the difference between these two grievous experiences, we will naturally understand the true beauty behind repentance- that it provides pain for the meantime, but radically transforms us and sets us free afterwards. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
What are some things you wish would change today? Your money problems? Your family disputes? Your lack of direction and purpose? None of that will change until you are willing to change. Nothing changes when nothing changes.
But that’s the beauty of God’s grace. He gives us this opportunity to turn our lives around and let go of the sin that ruins and destroys our worth, purpose and being and turn to the one who gives life. He gives us a shot at repentance.
Repentance is not a dirty word. It’s a beautiful destiny with a small buy-in. All God asks us to do is to put our faith in Him and lose our faith in ourselves. In Acts 2:38, Peter delivers the most beautiful resolution to a life lived in the fullness of Christ: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is beautiful. Oh so beautiful. It’s an image of a Saviour who died on a cross for the sins that could very well be your end and who invites you to follow Him as He leads you to a better way of living.