Church Words: Repentance

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Week three: Church Words! Discussing the church’s secret code language — words only used within church context, understanding what they mean and their importance. If you missed the first two weeks, we discussed “sin” and “Gospel” — check out the first two blogs if you didn’t see them yet! This week’s church word: “repentance.” You may hear it now and then out in the wild, but this it’s a pretty church-y word. What does it mean for someone to “repent” in a spiritual context?

Before we define it, let’s check out a great Biblical example of repentance. In Luke 19, we find a story about a wealthy tax-collector named Zacchaeus. Tax-collectors were definitely unpopular people in the ancient world, as they would typically over-collect taxes from the hard-working citizens (putting the extra moneys right into their own pockets). This unpopular, cheating tax collector of a man, we’re told from the story, was interested in seeing Jesus. As Jesus was approaching town, Zach climbed into a tree to see him (because he was short man), and Jesus, being the Son of God and knowing all things, called Zacchaeus out of the tree and instigates a hang-out between the two. Let’s see how Jesus impacted Zach’s life, in Luke 19:8-10:

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus was changed by Jesus, and we see in this story what repentance looks like. Zach recognized the way he was living was wrong, and that caused him to make a change that aligned with who Jesus is and what it means to follow Him. Here’s a simple, straightforward definition of repentance: “A change of mind leading to a change of action. It involves a sincere turning from sin to serve God and includes sorrow for, and confession of, sin and where possible restitution.” It’s really coming to grips with your sin, genuinely feeling bad about it, confessing to God that you’re in the wrong, and making a change to align with Jesus — who He is, what He teaches, and what His will is for our life. Have you recognized sin in your life, knowing it separates you from having an eternal relationship with God, and repented to make things right? If you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from death, then you will be saved (so says Romans 10:9). God offers so much love to you, all you have to do is accept. Don’t wait, make that decision on who Jesus is in your life — confess your wrongs, accept His death/resurrection as forgiveness of your sins, and make that change to follow Him and His ways.