If You Saw a Door Labeled ‘Repentance,’ Would You Walk Through It?

by | Jul 20, 2022 | Faith, Purpose & Identity, Spirit-Led Living

If you saw a door with a sign labeled “Repentance” hanging on it, would you want to walk through it? And if you went through this doorway, what would you expect to find inside the room?

I have a hunch that these questions may evoke conflicting feelings in you. For many, repentance is a word that communicates a sense of threat. Perhaps, at one level, this threat is true. Repentance does threaten us when we build our lives around ourselves, putting ourselves first in all we do and pretending to be who we are not. It challenges us to find a new center for our lives, to give ourselves to others in love and to honestly face who we really are.

Certainly, early in my Christian journey, I had a negative understanding of what repentance involved. Not so much for the above reasons but because of how I pictured repentance. The picture that usually came to mind was of a stern and unsmiling figure, dressed in a heavy overcoat, standing on the corner, holding a placard, threatening those passing by with the words “Repent, for the end is near.” It wasn’t a doorway through which I wanted to walk.

Yet we dare not abandon this word. The first invitation that Jesus gave when he began His preaching ministry was for His listeners to repent. From then onward, it was almost His constant invitation. Repentance is the doorway into that life which God gives and for which our heart most deeply longs. There is no other way to enter. Unless we walk through the door of repentance, we will not receive the zoe life that God gives.

Jesus was making available another kind of life, and He wanted His hearers to turn around, change their direction and walk through this door. Or, as Dallas Willard explained, to repent is to “review your plans for living and base your life on this remarkable new opportunity.” So we need to stress that when Jesus called those around Him to repent, He was inviting them to enter the fullness of life in which they would come to know that their lives had an eternal significance and an eternal destiny.

Recall Jesus’ inaugural sermon once more. His hearers are urged to repent because the kingdom of God has drawn near to them in Him. In effect, He was saying to His listeners:

“Change the direction of your lives. Rethink the way you are living, turn around, and enter the glorious new life God wants to give you. It goes beyond your wildest dreams and imaginings. It is a life of ever-deepening intimacy with My Abba Father and My family. As we journey together, you will become the person you are designed to be. You will discover how I want you to work with Me in healing this world. You will be slowly transformed into a transparent, compassionate and caring human being. You will receive power to defeat temptation within and to overcome evil around you. You will never be separated from My never-ending love for you and all creation.”

This is what Jesus invites us to. We accept this invitation when we turn toward the generous Giver of this new kind of life.

This means turning away from whatever has previously been at the center of our lives. We do not want to “play God” any longer in our own lives or in the lives of those around us. From this moment onward, we want to let God be God. We aim to seek first the will of God rather than our own. Rather than moving away from God, we are now moving toward God. Or, to put it the other way round, God is now drawing us into the zoe life that He wants to give us. We have changed direction.

Ignatius’ Doorway Moment

Ignatius experienced two sets of daydreams while he was recovering from wounds received while in the Spanish army. One set of romantic daydreams initially gave him a thrill and raised his spirits, but afterward they left him feeling flat, uninspired and desolate. In contrast, his dreams of walking in the footsteps of Francis and Dominic left him feeling alive, eager and energized. They were obviously more in tune with his truest longings than the other daydreams, and he embraced his deeper desire of following Christ. Ignatius decided to walk to the Holy Land as a pilgrim, to serve his new Lord there. Before he set off for Jerusalem, though, he made his way to a well-known Benedictine monastery high up a mountain at Montserrat, about 400 miles away. There he demonstrated his change of direction in two significant ways.

First, he came clean about his sinful past. For three days he reflected on his previous life, put together a written confession of his wrongdoing, and shared it with a wise French priest, who then gave him some counsel on how to grow in prayer. Ignatius knew that if he was going to start over with God, he would need to be radically honest with himself, with God and with at least one other person. Although later he did keep rehearsing his sins in an unhealthy and unhelpful way, this honest moment of confession showed his seriousness about entering God’s life through the door of repentance.

Second, Ignatius did something symbolic. He had arrived at the monastery dressed in the expensive clothes of a soldier, armed with his sword and dagger. To symbolize his decision to surrender himself wholeheartedly to God, he hung up his weapons at the altar, removed his fine attire, gave it away to a beggar and dressed himself in a pilgrim robe. He wanted now to be bound irrevocably to God and to burn any bridge from his past life that could have swayed him from seeking first God and God’s kingdom.

We all need our own personal “Montserrat moment” if we are going to be serious about walking through the doorway of repentance. It will look different for each one of us. It could mean:

  • Writing a letter to Jesus expressing our desire to surrender ourselves to him.
  • Putting down on paper the specifics of past wrongdoing, reading it out in the presence of a trusted friend and then burning it.
  • Making a public confession of faith within our community of faith.
  • Keeping some visible symbol near us that reminds us of our decision to turn our life over to God.
  • Whatever we do, we must find our way of entering the life that God gives through the door of repentance that God’s kindness has provided for us.

Trevor Hudson is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. After spending 40 years doing pastoral ministry in a local congregation, he now gives his time to lecturing, teaching and writing in the areas of spiritual formation and spiritual direction. Throughout his life as a pastor and teacher, he has sought to prioritize the discipleship ministry of local congregations, build bridges across different “streams” within the Christian community and relate spiritual formation to daily life within the context of our suffering world.

Taken from Seeking God: Finding Another Kind of Life with St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard by Trevor Hudson © 2021. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Joyce Meyer’s Daughter: ‘I Tried Until I Almost Died!’

Joyce Meyer’s Daughter: ‘I Tried Until I Almost Died!’

Growing up as the daughter of Dave and Joyce Meyer, Sandra McCollom knew about God’s goodness and unconditional love. “At eight years old, I remember sitting on the floor as my mom shared her faith with me. That’s when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” she...

Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

Prophet: 10 Essential Guardrails for Hearing God’s Voice

In the journey of hearing God's voice today effectively and accurately, you need the practical and personal work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus clearly told his followers that those who hear His words and put them into practice are wise! "Whoever hears these sayings of...

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Prophetic Vision: Three Tables Are Set

Recently as I was worshipping the Lord, I went into a vision where I could see I was in a dark and very deep valley. It was nighttime, and the valley was surrounded by tall mountains. On the top of each I could see the outlines of men and instinctively knew they were...

How Your Apostolic and Prophetic Worship Will Hurt the Enemy

How Your Apostolic and Prophetic Worship Will Hurt the Enemy

We are living in a time where it seems that dreams and visions are accelerating. The enemy fights against prophetic insight being poured out according to Joel 2:28-32. Numerous deliverance ministries have risen up to combat the ‘Pandora's box’ that was released in...

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Is He a God of Wrath or a God of Love?

Do you think the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The truth is that God is the same throughout the entire Bible. His wrath and His love are revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments. So why, then, did...

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

How You Can Have a Perfect Heart

Your heart is the most important part of you. It’s not only a physical organ that keeps your blood pumping, but when the Bible refers to the heart, it’s talking about who you really are. Each person has an inner and an outer life. There’s the person we show to...

RECENT ARTICLES

Gen Z’s Getting Baptized, Experiencing Radical Move of God on Public College Campus

A wave of repentance and revival is sweeping across the nation and destroying the "seeker sensitive" church model. For one congregation, what started as a time of consecration and repentance has led...
How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

How the FBI Raid on Mar-a-Lago Is Spiritual Warfare

It's been a few days since the FBI raided President Donald Trump's home in Mar-a-Lago, and the Biden Administration has yet to explain to the American people why they did what's never been done in American history—the government raiding the home of a former president....

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

How the Holy Spirit Can Restore Your True Sanity

Most of my life I tried to avoid one thing—being crazy or insane. When I was growing up my mother had emotional issues and saw a psychiatrist regularly. She was on medication which only seemed to make her mood swings worse. She had high highs, and low lows. When I...

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

Why Partial Obedience to God is Disobedience

My husband had a saying for our children growing up. “Partial obedience is disobedience.” He wanted them to understand that doing half the plan would not get them the full reward. Another reminder we used to tell our kids was, “Don’t think about it, don’t hesitate,...

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

Can You Discern Spiritual Wind?

The wind is a funny thing. We do not know where it comes from nor where it goes. We cannot see it, but we can see and feel its effects. Wind can be gentle and refreshing, cold or hot, strong, and dangerous, and everything in between. When the wind blows, we must...

Lightstock

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]