Self check-out stands in the grocery store have been designed to make me feel stupid. It seems I wind up doing something wrong every time. And then the machine calls the attendant over to help out the stupid guy. Everybody else looks over to see the dunce, who pushed the wrong button and screwed up the process. Last time, I got successfully all the way through and then put my card in backwards. Red lights flashed as I waited for the teenaged clerk to show me what to do. It would be nicer if the machine quietly said, “Turn your card around and try again.”
If you have been doing wrong thing and are stuck, it feels so good to find out what really works. Remember that, the next time you pull when the door says push. Remember this, too: changing your course of action because you learn what works is basically what the word “repent” means. Repent is a happy word. “Repent” is how you find the solution to a puzzle, the correct turn when you are lost and the real way to approach God. The way that works.
We hear “repent” angrily shouted by some red-faced, judgmental religious guy. We hear the word, repent, and think we should cower in shame. Nope. Repent means to change your understanding and try something that works. We humans have been stumbling, pell-mell, down the road of religion in the wrong direction. When Jesus came, He knew that would never work. The first word in His first message was repent.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
To say it another way, “Hey guys, turn around; come this way!”