|ESUS PROVIDED THE gift of atonement, but not everyone accepts His gift. Some don't want the gift, but many just don't know how to receive it.|
The first step across the chasm between us and God is believing that Jesus was who He said He was -- the Christ.
The next step is repentance. You've probably heard about repentance, especially if you watch television. The word may call to mind an excited preacher with slicked back hair and a shiny suit. He was probably thumping on his Bible and shouting, "Repent! Though most of us are familiar with that word, many don't know its real meaning. Repentance does not mean sorrow. It means "change."
Mark Twain said, "The only person who likes change is a wet baby." It seems natural to resist change, but change is necessary or there is no repentance. One cannot claim "I believe in Jesus, so I'm okay." (Remember that the devil also believes, but he's certainly not okay in God's sight.) A change of heart and attitude is essential.
Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17) Repentance involves being sorry for past mistakes and making the effort to turn away from them. A repentant heart causes me to look at things differently and to desire a new way of life that will please God.
The truth will set you free, but it often makes you miserable first. Let's say you've discovered the truth that, just like every living person, you have sinned and hurt God. Your sin has separated you from Him. When you accept the truth that you've disappointed God, you will most likely feel sorry that you've broken your relationship with Him. This sorrow is referred to in the Bible as "godly" sorrow, and Paul wrote that it is a good thing, which leads to even better things. (2 Corinthians 7:7-11) Godly sorrow isn't how you feel when you wish you hadn't been caught doing wrong. It's not being sorry that you must face the consequences of your actions. It's being heart broken that you've hurt God, and it's wanting to change so you won't hurt Him any more.
In the last section of the passage in 2 Corinthians 7, it says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret." Note that it doesn't say repentance equals salvation. It leads to it.
Godly sorrow, then, will lead to a change of attitude. It will cause us to admit our sins and ask forgiveness. It will make us want to invite God into our lives and give Him control of how we live. Godly sorrow will make us ask God to change our hearts so we will want what He wants and think like He thinks. It will cause us to want God to abide with us. It will lead us to ask Jesus to live within our hearts and help us make better choices.
This whole process is repentance - - the act of spiritually turning away from our old lives toward a whole new life in Christ.
True repentance involves accepting Jesus as SAVIOR. Few people will argue with their need for a savior, but repentance also involves asking God to be LORD and MASTER. This is where many people stop short. It's one thing to let a savior remove your guilt. It's another thing to surrender control over to your master. True repentance is demonstrated by turning your life over to God.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan