"'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!'"
Mark 1:15 (NIV)
Lent is a penitential season, a time to remind ourselves of the unpleasant truth: without God, we would only be curved in on ourselves and would be seeking to crush others in pursuit of our own gratification.
Although this may seem an abstraction, it is a spiritual reality for all of us. Knowing the depths of our need helps us then to see the heights that God has brought us to, the great mercy God has given to people who were dead in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1).
I had the opportunity recently to preach the Good News of the forgiveness of sins to those in a jail. Although we use the word “penitentiary” to distinguish between security levels of prisons, it is easy to deduce the original intent of the place; a place to repent of sins committed against the neighbor and against God.
Not every inmate who came to listen to the message had repented, but there was more than one who sincerely repented and asked for the assurance of forgiveness. It was my privilege to announce the words of pardon Christ has given to His Church (John 20:23). I look forward to the day those inmates are released to see how God will use that time of repentance in their lives, as they announce the Good News of the Kingdom of God to others.
Although it is possible that some who read this are in prison, I imagine that the majority of our readers are not. What does it mean, then, to repent when society has not condemned your actions? Are we really in need of repentance?
Unless your soul has left your body, the answer has to be "yes." As long as we are on earth, we need to repent of that curved-in-ourselves tendency, our continual effort to use others for our own ends, rather than to serve and love others. Take time this Lenten season to listen to God’s Word, and God will change your mind from an inward to an outward focus.
Lord, you called your followers to repent. Change our minds, change us from those who are dead to those alive with love. Change us from those who care only about one-myself- to those who are focused on You and others. Amen.
Rev. Tim Norton
Navajo, New Mexico