What do we all want?
Who doesn’t want a good life? A great life? A life beyond what we can even hope for?
In a world where two sides can rarely agree upon anything, I think this is one of the few things than can be universally accepted.
We have hopes of what the “good life” looks like. We think we are willing to do whatever it takes to gain the life we want.
But are we?
As I read through the gospels chronologically, I come across a simple sentence that suddenly seems oh so complicated, even problematic in some circles.
Mark 1:14-15 says,
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
That little word with vast implications- REPENT.
In a world where goal setting is like breathing, no one stops to ponder how repentance plays a vital role in achieving what is most desired.
We may think we are willing to do whatever it takes to gain the life and faith of our dreams, but the real indicator is found in a simple question.
Are we willing to be wrong?
Whether it is in regard to our salvation, sanctification, relationships, careers, or ministry, our repentance is critical to our progress and success.
What am I willing to do?
Accept fault or blame?
Change my viewpoint?
We can hear of the most glorious “good news” but if we are not willing to repent, we forfeit the eternal life God sent His Son to give us.
Or we may have the most powerful Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead, offering us an unimaginable resource residing inside, yet if we are not willing to respond to His convictions when we are wrong, if we will not heed His checks, we hinder His work in us.
We may have the best opportunities in our career field, but if we are not teachable, we won’t last long anywhere. We will be passed over for promotions or even demoted.
Additionally, we may be blessed with a family, but if our spouse or children never hear us utter the words “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry”, intimacy will not mark our family life. Strife will.
We may enjoy a loving community in our church, but if all we consider is how others are at fault without being more mindful of our own, then we will always be disappointed in others.
What is repentance?
The Greek word for repentance is “metanoeo” and it means to think differently or afterwards, to reconsider, to change one’s mind for the better.
Repentance is basically agreeing with God about our sin (our faults, attitudes, actions) with our willingness to turn from it. We take responsibility for what we have done that is wrong by God’s righteous standards, and accept His view as being the correct perspective.How can we truly repent if we never believe we can be wrong in the first place? Click To Tweet
This cooperation with God positively affects our relationship with Him and others. As we are corrected and refined by the Lord, we bless those around us.
When was the last time we repented?
Do we allow ourselves the great gift of recognizing our own shortcomings?
In our current culture, the backlash of the “right” to be right, the horror of being judged wrong or at fault in any way, is driving our society so that everyone’s feelings trump facts. It has become the most grievous sin to determine right and wrong.
We have become a people who should not be judged “wrong” on any issue. Truth has given way to personal perspective. We see it in the workplace, in our schools and universities, in our homes and sadly, even in our churches.
Everyone from teachers to pastors, policemen to employers, see the effects in our society of our unwillingness to accept responsibility.
This trend where being politically incorrect is more grievous than our inability to accept responsibility isn’t just happening with the younger generations. It affects all generations and backgrounds.
For instance, I know for myself, I struggle with being defensive. I have a family tendency to be a “know it all”. At times, I see it in my children and I try to identify it to them as coming from my side of the family. I want them to know what is contrary to what God desires of them or else they won’t know to be sensitive to the convictions God gives.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
The life beyond our hopes and dreams is the life Jesus beckons us to, following after Him in humility. But that life hinges on our responsibility, His command for us, to repent. In the Gospels, the order is made clear- before belief can occur, repentance must precede. Our agreeing with God about our sin nature is what drives our wholehearted acceptance of the salvation offered at Calvary.
What’s at stake?
When I stopped to ponder how the inability to admit wrong impedes our ability to repent, it was frightening, and for several reasons.
1) When we are unwilling to be wrong, we cannot agree with God about our sin condition.
2) When we refuse to be at fault, we cannot receive forgiveness through salvation.
3) When we cannot accept blame, we cannot become Christlike through sanctification.
4) When we are not teachable, we are unable to grow and learn from any mistakes.
5) When we focus more on the sins of others than our own, we become hypocrites.
6) When we are unable to humble ourselves, we bully our fellow man.
7) When we cannot receive correction, we will steadily spiral downward.
8) When we reject conviction, we are unable to love God or others.
Who is to blame?
The good life is where we can admit our fallibility and reap the reward God offers us in doing so. Our homes, our classrooms, our offices, our pews, our nation for that matter, are most enjoyed when they are filled with people who are not offended at the notion of their own personal faults, but readily accept and confess them.
Before we can believe the “good news”, we have to first believe that we can be wrong.