40 WAYS IN 40 DAYS LENT 2015
# 3 Find New Direction: Where am I going? (Repentance/Conversion) Mark 1:4-5,14-15
Mark 1:4 & 14
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
Repentance. Conversion. If I was teaching a science class I would be calling these the ‘technical vocabulary’, the big words that belong to this topic that we might not fully understand yet but we can’t talk about the topic without them. Mark begins his gospel with John, a wild man preaching a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins – then John goes to prison and Jesus appears in the narrative, with that same call, “Repent!”
I wonder if with the luxury of a couple of thousand years of hearing these words repeated if perhaps they have lost their power for those of us living in an academic world? Do we really repent, or do we simply tell God about our sins? There’s a huge difference between the former and the latter I would suggest. I vividly remember the night of my most powerful repentance experience, many years after I first believed in Jesus and asked him to forgive me of my sins. At this point in my life I had done something I never thought I would do and as a result I was pretty damaged. It was the middle of the night, it was hot, I was naked and alone and sobs wracked my body. Then as I cried and I shook and the kingdom of God came near. In my anguish I felt the spirit of God come alongside me and answer my deepest, darkest question, the one that I couldn’t voice, “Can you forgive me?”. Now you might think me crazy but I heard the words as clear as if you were speaking to me, the words of the prophet Joel, “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart” – and in the dark, through the breathless sobs I poured out my heart, the litany of my sins, and after each one again came the reassurance, “Even now”. Again and again, “Even now”. That was not the night I became a Christian, but it was the night I repented, believed and was converted. Now of course not every experience can, or should, be like that – but if our repentance has become more of an academic exercise then perhaps we need to go back to the wild man in the desert, hear the words anew and be shocked at the power of the idea.
– BP, Newmarket Baptist