Repentance has Nothing to do With Grief and Guilt

“In the place of the ashes of mourning, the LORD your God will give you the oil of gladness.”

What comes to mind when you think of repentance?

A lot of people think of sack cloth and ashes. At the beginning of Lent, which they term a season of repentance in preparation for celebrating Easter, the RCC has a ceremony anointing foreheads with ashes with the words, “Dust you are and unto dust you shall return.”

But when Jesus wanted to tell us about repentance, He told the parable of the Father and the Two Sons, especially the one who asked for his inheritance, wasted it in a foreign land and wasted himself there too, came back in misery hoping to be allowed to be a hired hand, and found that he was welcomed back into his Father’s household as a favored son, robed, given a ring, and celebrated with a feast!

So, regardless of what came to your mind earlier when you thought of repentance, what do you think should come to your mind when you think of repentance? What do you think really characterizes true repentance?

There is no such thing as repenting in preparation for celebrating the Resurrection, because repentance is participation in the Resurrection.

Repentance is not turning from sin in mourning and regret. Repentance is turning towards Life. Repentance is a weary soul coming to the rest of Jesus. Repentance is a starving person partaking of the Bread of Life. Repentance is a man wandering in the desert, parched and dying of thirst, drinking the Living Water. Repentance is trading in the ashes of mourning for the oil of gladness.

Repentance is the dead being raised to life at the voice of the Son of Man. Repentance is the fear-sick soul healed by the touch of Jesus. Repentance is believing that Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. That He came that we may life, and have it to the full.

Repentance means that we stop believing the lie of the evil one, that we stop believing in evil. Repentance means that we believe that the Mighty One is good, that He loves us. And there is absolutely nothing of sorrow, of guilt, of fear, of sack cloth and ashes, of mourning in this. Repentance means that we believe in the Resurrection of the Dead. Repentance means that we believe that evil will never have the upper hand against goodness, that sin will never conquer life or joy. That we know that fear is a lie and we reject it for all time, to live in joy and hope.

Repentance means that the soul that has been imprisoned in fear, in guilt, in misery, in regret, in striving, comes forth into the light of day, to eat and drink of the abundance of the Father.

What cause for mourning is there in that? Rather, there is all cause for joy. We do not mourn the Resurrection of the Dead. We rejoice that He is risen, and because He lives, we also live. We rejoice that neither life nor death nor angels nor demons nor height nor depth nor any other power nor the present nor the future nor anything else will ever be able to separate us from the love of Jesus our Lord. We rejoice that there is no evil that He cannot undo or turn into goodness.

Repentance is the beginning of faith, and faith is all joy. Repentance is the beginning of joy! Repentance is the greatest relief in the world. There is no pain in repentance, no grief, no mourning, nothing but gladness at the best news that could ever be! To the degree that there is any pain, any grief or mourning, any regret in repentance, it is because the repentance is not yet complete.

Repentance means that we no longer believe that dust we are and unto dust we shall return, but rather that we have risen from the dead in Jesus and are seated with Him in the heavenly places. Why practice saying the lie to ourselves or wallowing in it?

If you wish to contemplate death, by all means contemplate death. Contemplate that death, as feared and viewed with horror, is a perversion of something beautiful and peaceful. Contemplate that the death of Jesus has freed us from the need to see death in the darkness of fear, so that we may know, not death, but His Resurrection.

Repentance is not about death. Repentance is about birth into a new life. Repentance is about overwhelming joy.

The old man does not die. The old man already was dead. The old man is raised to life anew, young and fresh in the dawn of creation! The old man is not killed. The old man was in the throes of death, and is returned to health and youth!

Rejoice, rejoice! Do not wallow in the fear and mourning of the Fall. Rejoice in the freedom and life of the Resurrection!

Jesus does not want you to remember how miserable you were before He saved you. He wants you to be happy. Jesus does not want you to remember what it was like to be dead. He wants you to live life to the fullest.

 

Copyright 2022 by Raina Nightingale

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