“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:2
“Repent” has been thrown around a lot, and usually in a way that feels more condemning than hopeful. If, upon hearing the call to repent, we were to ask why, we might get a response about avoiding sin and hell. While that response is certainly arguable from Scripture, it isn’t the rationale Jesus gave His listeners. No, after telling them to repent, He followed up with a reason: because the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.
That’s a fuller, much more positive purpose than we might have heard before. Repentance—in Hebrew thought, to change one’s direction; in Greek thought, to change one’s thinking—is not primarily about avoiding something; it’s about entering something. It’s a plea to those who are walking away from God’s beautiful realm to turn around and walk into it. It’s not an oppressive command; it’s a welcoming invitation. It is God’s way of saying to those who are about to miss Him, “Come back! Come inside! Enjoy the wonders of My realm.”
If that’s what biblical repentance is all about, who would pass it up? Who forgoes the adventure of a lifetime? Who gives up a front-row seat to history’s most thrilling events? Who wouldn’t want to enter into the throne room of ultimate power and sit at His feet? Who doesn’t want a new start, new eyes, new wisdom? Why would anyone disregard access to the supernatural Kingdom? Only those who don’t recognize what’s at stake. Only those who think their way is the right one and no turning around is needed.
History is full of such tragic mistakes, but we have a daily opportunity to align ourselves with truth, beauty, love, and goodness. We are zealous about repenting— changing thoughts, feelings, words, and actions—in order to see more, do more, and live more fully. The word “repent” may be laden with extra baggage, but the decision is remarkably free of it. Stepping further into the Kingdom experience is always a good thing.
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