Reply to Essay on Repentance by Joseph Jusinski.
I agree that we should all ‘wake up’ to our surroundings. I agree too that we all need to rise above our petty squabbles and irritations. Jesus said ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger’, also when asked by Peter how many times should I forgive my enemy, 7 times?’ Jesus replied 70 x 7′, meaning until the anger, pain or resentment, has been completely erased by our wilful decision to forgive and forget, then the love of Jesus replaces the bitterness one felt for that person.
Easier said than done right?Repentance is not however just waking up’ to the realities of life. Repentance means to turn away from sin by turning back towards God, a full 180 degree turn. None of us can do that on our own; our good intentions need God’s grace, mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit to be truly life changing.
Even Jesus would do nothing without His Father’s blessing and authority.So what hope do we have?Without Jesus, none! Only by knowing His unconditional forgiveness, allows us then to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us. Recognising how sinful we are and that only by grace can we be saved, also gives us insight about the necessity of asking forgiveness of those we have hurt; as humility is a healer and great leveller!
(I would just like to say here that although Sin means doing something that is morally wrong, it also it means to turn away from God. Pride was the original sin, and by that I mean, thinking we can live without God and be independent of Him. Even so called good’ people, sin if they think they are good by their own efforts. Jesus said no one is good, only my Father in Heaven is good.’ We ALL fall short of His standards; sin is not just doing something bad’, it is more about saying I don’t need God’)
If what I have said is true, then Joseph’s wake up!’ call is maybe over simplistic and does not get to the heart of the human trait of pride. It also does not answer the questions of hate, and a need for revenge; often expressed in our demand for Justice.
Most people I know, including me, I am sad to admit; get irritated and frustrated very easily about what are really petty offences. So to be at peace with our selves, with our neighbour and especially with God is certainly an ideal, which I think most of us would strive for; but most of us rarely attain.
All religions have their road to peace, but only Jesus died for our wrong hearted humanity. It is through acknowledging our true natures and recognising that only He has the right and the power to forgive sin and reform us into the person we were created to be. But that is life’s journey, not a once and for all state (certainly not in this life!) where suddenly we are sinless. From my understanding of the Bible and from my personal experience; I am still very much a flawed human being. However the difference is that I am forgiven! But as to how much I accept that and live in that state of grace is dependant on my free will. I still think, say and do things I know that are wrong or that are done for selfish motives, even if I can justify them to myself.
It is not just my striving to be good’ that frees me from evil, I cannot earn my way into heaven.It is by grace that I become a new person, each time I put my trust in God and repent of those actions that I know to be wrong, then my faith makes me whole again. That is I believe a description of what repentance means.
Joseph begins his essay saying, most people feel they should get down on their knees and ask God for forgiveness, as long as they don’t get wrapped up in guilt. That is partly true but a bit contradictory; in that it is a sense of guilt that causes people to humble themselves and ask for forgiveness. If then they still feel a burden of guilt, then they have not fully accepted God’s forgiveness; so Joseph’s point about getting wrapped up in guilt’ is then valid. Someone who has genuinely repented has no guilt! But if it is only remorse (feelings of guilt and regret) that causes someone’s need for forgiveness; it is likely that person will continue to feel guilt, and will likely make that same mistake again.
Whilst we need to accept that our past cannot be changed; it is important we learn from it; which is why the Bible is about one third an historical record of fallen humanity. God wants us to know how we began, what went wrong and our journey through history to recognising Jesus. But the Bible is about one third prophesy too. So as much as we might like to think we are ok, if we live in the now’ and are cool with everyone else, it will not be ok. The world’s present reality and its future are definitely not the utopian’ dream Joseph seems to hope for in his personal philosophy.
Please forgive my rather preachy’ essay. Repentance is one of those subjects that demand clarity. We all have our take’ on how we should live, and some are no doubt, laudable, as is Joseph’s. Therefore our need to repent, to seek forgiveness and to live in the knowledge of God’s grace is not a philosophy, but the only reality that will unite us with the God who loves us and wants us live with Him again.So thank you Joseph for your thought provoking essay!