By Liz Core, a senior at Goshen College
Reprinted from Lenten Devotions
The word “repentance” is daunting.
This probably has something to do with the not-too-uncommon depiction of a lofty God furrowing his brows down on a Sodom-esque community, commanding “Repent, sinners!” in a booming tone.
The broader Christian tradition has also had its own unfortunate history of preachers and people shouting from pulpits or street corners: “Repent, for thou art lowly!”
This constant reminder of our sinfulness can do only harm. And, as I have learned from my own past feelings of self-loathing because I believed sermons that told me God does not accept me, I am not sure if dwelling in disgust for ourselves is holy at all. Not one bit.
Though, this is not to say that repentance is unimportant. After all, the theme of repentance occurs numerous times in Scripture. Even Christ reminded a crowd that “Unless you repent, you will all perish” in Luke 13:5.
Again, this is scary.
But, real repentance is not a threat. It is an invitation to allow more of God’s goodness into ourselves by giving up the fight to hide our sinfulness. Repentance allows God to dig through our bulky, embarrassing baggage that we’ve been hiding or avoiding. This is a step towards more growth, so that we may thrive. And, this is far from a command to cower before an angry throne.
After all, we all know that we are sinners already. But it is when we are ready to admit this and move on, through repentance, that we grow and bear the fruit. And this kind of repentance is not scary. It is lovely.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)