12 Aug Words of Grace – When Good Words Become Bad Words
Without an understanding of the gospel, we are not likely to appreciate the word repentance. Repentance is for most people a bad word. It sounds harsh and judgmental to say we need to repent. It sounds like it leads to the death of fun and fulfillment.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Repentance is a good word representing the way into the goodness God has for us.
Why has this good word become a bad word? Many reasons could be given. People have misused the word in the context of religion and the church. They have called for repentance that is nothing more than the end of bad behavior. There is little, if any, explanation of God’s grace in the call to repentance. Repentance has not been presented as the beginning of something true and good.
Also, the word repentance is received as an encroachment on our freedom. We hear what we can’t do rather than what we are being freed to do. Like a prisoner who refuses to walk out of the cell to freedom simply because he doesn’t want to be told what to do, we can resist the call to repentance because it seems like an assault on our autonomy. We don’t realize we are being called out of bondage and into freedom through the door of repentance. Human pride hears repentance as a bad word.
Repentance is a good word that needs to be revisited and revived. The act of repentance is that of turning to God who is all good. Repentance is an end and a beginning. Like all doors, it leads out and in. As the apostles said in Acts 11, God grants repentance that leads to life.
This Sunday at Grace, we will again look into the book of Judges and consider the theme of repentance. Because repentance is a good word, not a bad word, this Sunday should be a day of gladness, not sadness. Pray with me that the Lord will lead us to the repentance that leads to life. Pray today for someone who is hurting and struggling, and who needs to know the goodness of the Lord.