Is it time for the church to repent?
Repent, the Kingdom is at hand!
In the Gospel of Mark, the gospel that many scholars believe was the first written gospel, Jesus starts His preaching career with a very clear message… ” “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [j]is at hand; repent and [k]believe in the gospel.” Many faithful followers have followed suit by public calls to repentance and a return to “Godly values” in order to save our nation from the judgement of God. Unfortunately, this is a gross misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying and actually perpetuates the very thing Jesus was speaking against.
Repent comes from the Greek word metanoia which means to change your mind. The word repentance as we understand it today has come to mean something else entirely. It is mostly understood as RE-PENANCE. Penance is defined as “voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.” Jesus’ call to change the way we think has been turned into a moralistic call to change our behavior. Jesus sought internal transformation not behavior modification. So where is the disconnect?
The moralistic understanding has become a vehicle for further division, another tool in the belt of the righteous to draw lines between themselves and those who do not meet their moral standard. This posture stands diametrically opposed to the message of the gospel. A message of forgiveness, lowliness, humility, and inclusivity. The message of the gospel is one that destroys all the labels that we created to separate ourselves from others. The exhortation of the Apostle Paul is clear “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
If we only apply that message to people who believe what we believe, which largely we don’t, we are missing a crucial principle of the Kingdom. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving our neighbor means looking through the eyes of Jesus the Christ who granted forgiveness to the very people who were killing Him. It’s following the example of Stephen, the first martyr, who prayed for the men who were throwing the stones that would take his life.
We as the body of Christ need to repent of our pride and ego. We’ve created enemies of those we deem to be sinners while Jesus called them friends. We call our nation to repentance and turn a blind eye to our own hypocrisy. We ostracise the very people that Jesus embraced. We draw lines that Jesus willfully crossed Himself. It is crucial that we stop looking at the world and start looking in the mirror. We’re convinced that we are the solution but we are part of the problem.
It’s time for us, the church, to repent. It’s time to wake up to the reality that the Kingdom is at hand, the Kingdom is within you, and the Kingdom calls ALL who are weary to come and drink from the fountain of grace, peace, and love. It’s time for a change. If we resist change we create our own opposition but if we embrace the change we will see a transformation, first within ourselves, then within the world! Join the revolution!