This comes from the greek word “metanoia”, which means to change one’s mind. Repentance is not simply tears to making yourself feel better but is ultimately changing one’s mind on a particular subject matter. In the Christian case, the changing of the mind is a thought that sin and a life apart from God was what we wanted to thinking that God is the true source of life.
I remember one time that a person was trying to explain repentance to a crowd and he was such an animated speaker that everyone was captivated by his charm. He was building up his point about sin and changing one’s heart and then it got to the point where he was going to drop some hot fire as he explained that repentance was a changing of one’s mind! That got the crowd locked in for the next part where he gave a full body demonstration. As he was raising his voice, he told us that repentance is like a full three hundred and sixty degree turn and spun around with such flair that I wanted to give him ten points for that majestic move but as I saw him spin in all of his glory I could only think back and say, “Bruh”.
The crowd laughed because a three hundred and sixty degree turn is a full circle and thus you end up in the same place you were while facing the same direction! Safe to say, the speaker caught his mistake and we all had a good laugh but the lesson here is that repentance is a one hundred and eighty degree turn not three hundred and sixty but so many times in the midst of the turn we look like we are changing but end up in the same place!
As God continues to speak to Jeremiah, He fundamentally lays out the foundation of what a hundred and eighty degree turn looks like!
“Truly the hills are a delusion, the commotion on the mountains. Truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel.”
“Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dishonor cover us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers from our youth even to this day, and we have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.”
True repentance is the realization of our brokenness that we have caused ourselves. That sin is not a force that made us do anything but it was actually a choice that we made and thus sin would have us blame something or someone for our actions because we want to do whatever it takes to feel safe. To truly be safe with a peace of heart starts by admitting our faults. Sin will tempt you to cover it up and when you walk on that road, it will only require more sin to cover the previous sin until you have big heaping pile of it in your life that is so big that it will threaten to bury you in it. So before that happens, turn around and admit your faults so you can begin to be free.
“If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return.”
Sometimes we repent but we haven’t truly repented or turned to the LORD. We may have turned but we made a circle in that we began to look like we were turning to the LORD but we turned to something else instead. Sometimes we tend to turn towards feeling good and feeling safe because we looked like we confessed our sin but true confession doesn’t end in tears or feeling good but a commitment and actual actions of change. When we begin to change step by step by choosing the LORD, then we know that our repentance was true.
I was listening to a sermon a long time ago from a pastor that was shepherding a professional football player. This football player was living a lifestyle of fame and fortune but was not a life pleasing to the LORD. The football player decided that he had enough of this lifestyle and chose to be discipled by this pastor because he needed help in dealing with the temptations that came with such popularity. The player was going well on his journey of following the LORD and one night he called the pastor in tears and frustration. The pastor calmed him down and asked what was going on and the player in his frustration told him that he hooked up with a random woman he met at a party and was condemning himself that he has not changed at all since they started this discipleship. The pastor in his wisdom let the man speak and then at the end said something that stuck to me till this day. The pastor reminded him that we all fall and in the midst of our fall we discredit our progress but he reminded him how far he has come. That you can fall in a moment but it doesn’t discredit the journey already walked and the journey he can continue to walk on if he chooses to just simply get back up, turn around, and continue walking towards the LORD.
You may fall, if anything you will fall but repentance is not just simply an action but it is a lifestyle of choosing God in our successes and in our failures. Today if you are still walking, then keep walking. If you have fallen, then get back up and keep looking forward!