I grew up in a tiny Methodist church with pink brick. The preacher spoke about God’s love a lot, and that is where I learned how very much I am loved. But the Baptist church was an arm length away in our small farm-town, and I would go to the Methodist summer church camp, 4-H camp, and Falls-Creek, the Baptist church camp every summer. I still remember how the boys and girls could not swim together, our shorts had to touch our knees, and every night we’d sit in the big outdoor shelter listening to the preacher tell us how we needed to repent. We’d walk down the aisle and give our lives to Jesus, repent and get dunked (I mean, baptized) in the pool the next day–girls and boys separately, of course.
Repent was not really a big word in the pink brick church, but I heard it a lot in the Baptist one. (I was blessed to grow up in both.)
Repent. What do you think of when you hear that word?
I think of the prodigal son trudging his way back home defeated and sorrowful acknowledging what he did wrong, asking to be taken back into the family, willing to be a servant rather than a son.
All of the actions of the prodigal do represent repentance (turning toward the father, acknowledging sin, and humility), but I learned something very interesting about the word “repent”. Look at the definition of the ancient Greek word:
Metanoeo; from “meta”, denoting change of place or condition, and “noeo”, to exercise the mind, think, comprehend. To repent, change the mind, relent. Theologically, it means to change one’s mind or disposition toward God. . . . (Key Word).
What does this definition point to as the source of “repentance”?
Yep. The mind!
It has everything to do with the way we think. This is the secret to our victory.
When I think of repenting, I think of confessing something like, “Lord, I’m so sorry I ate that Chick-fil-A cookies and cream shake. Please forgive me.”
But while confession is important, I am starting to see the emptiness of this repentance. First, Jesus died for our sins past, present, and future. I walk daily forgiven, so why am I asking forgiveness? Wouldn’t a more powerful and correct prayer be, “Jesus, change my thoughts about these ‘comfort foods’ that are actually dangerous for my health. Help me remember that it’s going to make me feel worse rather than better in fifteen minutes after I drink it. Change the way I think about this.”
My example may seem silly, and I hope it gave you a chuckle, but I used this example because sin is destructive. It ranges from what we do to ourselves to what we do to others. And sin keeps us from fully living in the abundant life Jesus promised.
Many of us fight the same battles over and over.
We are Christian, but we haven’t experienced peace or joy. Our emotional and spiritual life is a roller-coaster.
For some of us life seems much the same way it was before we decided to raise our hand to pray for Jesus to be our Savior.
Living on this earth is a daily battle, some days tougher than others, but challenges will always arise while we walk in this dust–even as believers of Jesus. None of us are immune to the power of the mind and the voices in our head. But Paul wrote,
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
How do we do this? How do we rewire our brains?
We replace the negative, the thoughts that keep us from trusting God and doing what’s good, with Truth. Here are three truths imperative to change our way of thinking and therefore to experience the joy promised in Christ and freedom from sin:
God is good. He’s not just good. He. Is. Goodness. (Psalm 34:8) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
God loves us. His love for me is not based on my goodness, but His. (Romans 5:1-8) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:1,2)
We are His creation and everything He made was good. I’m in need of a Savior, but in Him I am being restored to His original design, and I am good even though I’m not perfect yet. (Psalm 139:13,14) “For you created me my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.
Before the prodigal son returned home he found himself so hungry that even the pig slop looked good. That’s when he realized he needed to go home. But on the way home he assumed the worst. He was prepared to return home as nothing more than a slave. He “thought” that would be the father’s response. But he was wrong.
The older brother “thought” that his father loved the prodigal more than him because he threw a party for the younger brother. But the older brother was wrong. “All that I have is yours.” said the father. The father loved the older son just as much. But the brother didn’t celebrate because he didn’t believe it.
He missed out on a good party.
I pray we don’t miss out on all that God has for us simply because we refuse to exchange our old way of thinking for new. Nothing will change if nothing changes in the way we think.
[bctt tweet=”Nothing will change if nothing changes in the way we think.” username=”wordsbyandylee”]
What thoughts bring you down and hold you back from joy and peace? Leave a comment, I’ll search for a scripture to help you replace that thought with Truth.
Digging Deep to Live Fully!