Repentance- is the activity of reviewing one's actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live a more responsible and humane life. (copied from wikipedia) A couple of days ago I was talking with someone and I had a reaction flare up in my heart that I immediately knew was the old man. I'm sure none of you holy, righteous, people have ever had that happen, so everyone pray for me. I got off the phone and immediately began crying. I hadn't raised my voice to the person, I hadn't said anything "hurtful", I just knew that I knew that something not Godly was coming out of my heart. I was on my way to a meeting and as I walked in, my friend and mentor, took one look at me asked if I was okay and then sent me to her room to spend time with Jesus alone. (Thank God for friends and mentors who know you and can sense these moments) I walked down the stairs, into the room, and fell to my knees weeping before God. Weeping tears of repentance, remorse, and pain.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8)
The world and even the body of Christ often has such a hard time embracing this word. It's a word that over the years people have tried to whisper when it seems the Bible seems to yell it. It seems to me that the world, including the church, would love to find a way to "excommunicate" the word from our vocabulary. I'll be honest, I don't understand at all.
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)
Forgiveness and refreshing comes through repentance. Repentance reminds me of my desperate need for the blood of Jesus and the guidance of Holy Spirit. Repentance ushers in a flood of Gods forgiveness and mercy always leaving me overwhelmed with His unconditional love. Repentance reminds the enemy that the blood of Jesus stripped him of all power over me. Repentance gives me the opportunity to reveal my heart when my behavior didn't reflect the friend, family member, minister, or simply Christ follower I am called to be.
More than anything true repentance brings me right back to knowing that God sees my heart and it is for Him and His is for me. In repentance the enemy has no ground to feed me lies to try and make me feel guilty or shameful. When you vulnerably go to the Father and say, "here it is God, I messed up, or I feel this, or I failed", He immediately forgives you. It won't be long until the enemy comes in and says, "You did this, you failed here, you're not this, you're..." and I get the joy of saying, "Yep, and I already told the Father, and He already said He forgives me!!!"
Why are we so afraid of this beautiful gift? Why do we debate on whether it is "necessary"? I don't repent because I'm forced to, I repent because my relationship with God and man matters to me. It's an opportunity to apply the blood of Jesus, be in harmony with God and man, to reveal our true heart, and kick the enemy in the face! It's the epitome of reconciliation and restoration. Just because I love it, doesn't mean it's easy.
So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4)
My first year in Redding, was a year of repentance. It was a year of having my "junk" flushed to the surface and making the choice to deal with it, sometimes publicly! It wasn't fun. It wasn't easy. My personality has always been one to try and do everything "perfect", it's a nightmare for people like that to come face to face with failure, mistakes, places we just "missed" it. To be honest there's a whole side of this "Kingdom Culture" that is taught out here that can be a nightmare for people like me. We're encouraged to take risk, to jump off into the unknown, we're asked to be raw, real, vulnerable, we're told that conflict will happen, and we will be called out on our mistakes, we're told to be honest with community and trust them. We're told that if we'll learn to be vulnerable and show ourselves then we will find the wholeness, healing, forgiveness, and true love we long for. IT'S SCARY!?! However, in vulnerability (within safe community) you're able to present yourself with your weaknesses, with your faults, and INSTEAD of judgement or rejection you receive forgiveness, mercy, kindness, and love. In repentance, grace is ushered in to overcome.
Repentance is one of the strongest attacks against the enemy. It applies the blood of Jesus to your current shortcomings and reminds the enemy that he lost. It humbly goes to community, friends, pastors, mentors, leaders, co-workers, bosses, (whoever) and paves the way for restoration, for forgiveness, and for unity. Do you see why satan hates it so bad? Do you see why he wants to rid it from the church and the world?
After I cried with the Lord, I felt His pleasure. I felt His forgiveness. I felt His grace. But I knew it wasn't over. I had to speak to that friend and repent also. We have a saying we use often, "Did you clean up your mess?" In other words you repented to God, but other people were affected, have you made it right with them, or done all you can to make it right, and restore the standard? I had to go lower and admit that my heart was wrong. I walked away knowing that through these simple acts we build trust and we build a stronger bond. I can trust friends who forgive and easily reconcile in my weakness or mistakes. You can trust a friend who is not afraid to admit faults or shortcomings. You can trust a friend who is willing to tell you when you've messed up. We can all trust a God who is never shaken or shocked when we "miss" it and lovingly and willingly offers forgiveness and grace to overcome.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He's a good God.
Be Blessed, J. Tate