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Column: The gift of repentance

Latest column by Tim Pippus.
Moses, Bible

The word “repent” is in desperate need of a makeover.

To start with, it is a churchy word that most people do not understand and then, for a long time, the church has assigned it the wrong tone.

Repent means “to turn around” or “reset” or “start again”.  Therefore, it should be a good and hopeful word. In fact, it was the first word that Jesus said when he began teaching: “Repent for the kingdom of God is near!” (Matthew 4:17).

Mark also records these words, but he expands on them by stating, “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!’” (Mark 1:14-15).

Twice the word repent is tied to the idea of good news.

Unfortunately, for many, the word repent is not good news. Instead, it is often used as a form of punishment. In other words, repent is what you do when you have been caught doing something wrong. It is tied to shame and the focus is squarely on the sin that was committed. Repentance has become an uncommon act that is reserved for those who have really messed up their lives.

Seen correctly, though, repentance is not about shame and the past. It is about hope and the future. It is an opportunity and an invitation.

Satan would love for you to believe that you have gone too far and that your sin is so great that God would never welcome you back. Do not believe that lie. There is always a way home through the cross and our repentance.

Hope begins when we turn around, start again and reset.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).