February 06, 2006

Acts 2:37-42 / crystal

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'What are we to do, brothers?' 'You must repent,' Peter answered ...

The thing that caught my attention in this reading was the idea of repentance.

What does repentance mean? Though the early church fathers translated the Greek word, metanoia, to mean "penance", the meaning at the time Acts was written was different ... more a change of one's mind ...

In most cases when the English word repent occurs in the NT, it is translating metanoia. Metanoia is not the equivalent of the OT term shu'b. It certainly does not mean "penance". Nor does it normally mean "repentance." Rather, in the NT it retains its pre-Christian meaning of a change of mind. The English reader thus generally needs to read "change of mind "--not turn from sins--when he sees the word " repent" in the NT. - New Testament Repentance: Lexical Considerations

Seeing the need for a change in one's self doesn't come easily and, in our culture, dwelling and reflecting on one's possible mistakes is not only considered unpleasant but dangerous to self-esteem. What makes changing worthwhile? When repentance has to do with relationship, like the one with Jesus/God, it becomes a change of not just mind but heart. Love is the engine that drives repentance and transforms it from a cool-headed alteration of thought or a guilty act of penance into the healing of a relationship.

By the world’s logic repentance runs the range from risky to stupid. What does it change? The past is past. The dead are dead. So why make yourself vulnerable now? Get over it and get on with life. Live for the future. But the past isn’t past and the dead aren’t dead and the future shouldn’t be more of the same. - Sunday Week 1 of Lent Year B


At 7:10 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

A very piquant definition of repentance came from an old timey evangelist, Sam Jones, I think, one of my father's favorite sources:

Repentance means to quit your meanness.

Some of the sixties generation would perfer to deny the existence of meanness, but when it impacts your well being, you perceive it.

I think anybody with a significant spiritual life must be aware of the things he should do and the things he should stop doing. If that awareness rises above wishful thinking, then they are repenting.

At 2:53 a.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi Larry. That sounds like a pretty good definition :-)

At 5:37 p.m., Blogger david said...

I get what yer saying here Crystal. But the flip side of the coin is this culture is also addicted to self-help books. Some something in this culture is aslo fascinated with metanoia and moving on.

Funny how we can be so obssessed with change and self-improvement and so terrified of confession and repentence at the same time.


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