“The time is fulfilled… and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the gospel!” (Jesus – Mark 1:15)
When Jesus came to this earth, He had a pretty standard message: “It’s time… the Kingdom of God is just about to come in full force. Repent. Believe in the good news of that Kingdom!”
We often talk about believing. How believing is essential to our Christian faith.
And it certainly is.
But we don’t often talk about the importance of belief coupled with repentance. If we understand Jesus’ admonition correctly, He is saying we must first repent and then we must believe. He is telling us: we can’t have a true faith until we have repented. Repentance opens the door to true belief.
But what did Jesus mean when He called people to repent?
It seems like a strange message to proclaim to people who were already God’s people (the Jews of Jesus’ day). Stranger still… for the most part, the Jewish people were a God-fearing, rule-following, ritual-keeping bunch. The Jews of Jesus’ day took their covenant relationship with God pretty seriously – and most of them were trying their level best to do what was right in God’s eyes.
Why would people who were living pretty decent moral and religious lives need to repent?
The answer strikes at the heart of what we have been talking about in the past week. The Kingdom of God is based upon a new way of living – and that new way of living is based on a new way of thinking. Not the same old ways… just improved. It is whole new ways of doing things – of speaking, of acting, of trusting God. And to live in this new way, the old way of thinking had to go – to be replaced by this new way. Jesus came to tell God’s people that they would have to repent in order to embrace the new Kingdom of God.
You see, most of us have been taught that “to repent” means to change your behavior. Stop doing bad things – and start doing good things. And if you do, God will take notice and invest Himself in your life.
But that is NOT what it means to repent. The word “repent” literally means “to change your mind – to change your mindset… your way of thinking.” Jesus was calling people to a changed way of thinking… before they would ever be able to accept the coming Kingdom.
What IS this new way of thinking??
Tune in tomorrow…