Wednesday, December 08, 2004

thoughts in progress I

have you ever wondered where we get this idea from that repentance means 'saying sorry to God for the things we have done wrong'? try as i might i can't seem to find this idea in my Bible. if i'm missing something really obvious will someone please let me know!

8 comments:

Naomi said...

Try 1 Kings 8:46-51 - Solomon's prayer at the temple dedication looking forward to the times of exile... actually in exile, Nehemiah's prayer at the beginning of the book... I think Psalm 51 kind of gives that idea of saying sorry to God 'against you, and you only have I sinned'... although it is confession too - owning up to what he's done.
BUT obviously in these cases there is no hint of it just saying, it's also matched with attitude and action ... 'changing their mind' completely... i.e. turning from idols, detestable practices etc - and there is an expectation that their relation with God will change, that he will respond to their contrition (big word for the day;) and save them ...

http://www.biblegateway.com/ is a great thing;)

RAD said...

Isn't repentance about a change of mind (and action) rather than just being sorry?

Matt said...

ok Naomi thanks for your thoughts although i'm still not seeing anything that resembles the modern doctrine which reduces becoming a christian to 'saying sorry to God for the things i have done wrong'. would you agree that we've got it badly wrong somewhere along the line?

Anonymous said...

Surely the gospel is that "The King (Yahweh) is here... and things are going to change. Do you want in ? If you do, it's got to be about changing what/who is Lord over your life." Part of that is about recognising that you hadn't given God that role in your life. Repentance is deciding to make the change.

I suspect our "saying sorry" is our attempt to make sense of this massive thought. We do need to acknowledge we've tried to do things our way, and we've thus done things that don't honour God. I'm happy to acknowledge that in repentance and "say i'm sorry about that having been true about me". Of course, until we have a revelation that Christ is Lord, we don't realise anything was amiss.

My mum always said "saying sorry means you won't do it again". Maybe that is repentance.

Not sure if this helps you. But it helps me !

Anonymous said...

Forgot to reveal myself... Rich Johnson !

Naomi said...

ah-ha, I hadn't realised you were talking about becoming a Christian! There is still of course Jesus as he announced the Kingdom of God/Heaven coming near seeing it as a reason for people to repent, (and I assume repenting/changing your mind, is what makes accepting the Kingdom coming into your life possible)...

but if you're talking about just saying a sorry prayer and that qualifying you as fully paid up follower of Christ, then of course that's blatantly very short of what he asks from us... it's not a magic spell, it should be a more life-changing commitment AND change of mind/lifestyle (i.e. repentance) than getting married!

but (presumably) working up to saying that 'Jesus is Lord' takes a while, just as saying 'I do' does... and wouldn't 'meeting' Jesus make you want to say sorry, but also very aware of how inadequate that is? (I think this is where both the cross and discipleship come in)

As for 'getting it badly wrong' if we have reduced being a Christian to just saying sorry, and not showing a change of life, then yes we have - it's all just lip-service, clearly saying that you believe & are sorry, is different from 'walking the talk' - isn't that what James was talking about?
I guess we can be so eager to see people get their heads wrapped around the amazingness of what Jesus has on offer, we can 'bag 'em' too early, before they've really 'counted the cost'...

I'm still not sure if I've got hold of what you are thinking of, but that's my two ha'porth;)

Matt said...

thanks Rich and Naomi. I'm focusing particularly on the idea that repentance means saying sorry. it's quite clear that we are called to repent but what does that actually mean? we have been told that it means saying sorry for the things we have done wrong but that to me is just selling it way too short. it's far more fundamental than that. Last week at the Emergent Conference Steve Chalke was reminding us of the story Tom Wright tells about Josephus who went to meet the leaders of a Jewish rebellion against the Romans. Josephus's point to them was : "don't go into battle with the Romans. they will crush you. there's another way. follow me. give up your agenda and follow my agenda". but the actual words he used were : 'repent and believe in me'.
i'm looking for a deeper understanding of what it means to become a Christian (obviously repentance is an ongoing thing but you know what i mean). i think there's something far more radical going on that what we have been led to believe. i think we've been sold short.

Suzie said...

Hi Matt. What can I say? I've succumbed.
But to the point...I think you're right in saying it's more radical than 'saying sorry for the things we've done wrong'. My Greek teacher last year, a fantastic wise and wizened monk, was very forceful on this point -metanoeite - repent, means turn around. Like, you're walking in one direction, you suddenly turn around and start walking the exact opposite way. Quite a step up from a mild sorry.