“Idiots Guide to Repentance”

Still ruminating on the "repent of my righteousness" posts from last week (one and two). I think that’s one of the hardest things for me to grab ahold of over time, that the good things I’ve done or been about are still "filthy rags". And it’s not that I hang my hat on anything particularly spectacular. 106_0860b_filteredJust doing my best is usually time- and energy-consuming enough. "Having good intentions" and meaning to do the right thing – that goes in this pot, too. All those things we think we’re doing "okay" at are still so far short of perfection. Hmm.

It begins to change your definition of "repent" – from just being sorry you’ve done wrong to now thinking how my "done right" needs to be even more focused on Him, somehow. Repent is a daily readjusting, I’ve found, a more intentional inward shift more and more towards things that matter. I don’t do this very well. But I think mentally I can begin to think "repentantly" about some of these things. I can catch myself quicker, perhaps, I hope.

It also broadens my definition of "sin" – not just "breaking God’s law", but isn’t it more about anything that’s done outside of some sort of defining relationship with Him? Doug Pagitt said that sin is anything the dis-integrates us from God. Even the good things we do, if they alienate us, that’s sin. And even breaking the law, if it is driven from within a relationship with God – that’s okay, or at least okay-ish…

And above all this, the hardest thing for me is that it intensifies my definition of "forgive". Even the word "definition" is too narrow for what I think this means in regard to real forgiveness and grace. I might have to write more on that later.

Any thoughts?

p.s. – if you roll your mouse over the "one" link up above in the opening paragraph, you’ll see the URL in your status bar, or click on it and you’ll go to that page; I like that it has that first post with the filename "repenting-of-yo.html" – because I think we all probably need to "repent of yo" more often than we care to admit.

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5 thoughts on ““Idiots Guide to Repentance”

  1. Kimberly says:

    just followed your blog link over from Margaret Feinberg’s page, and I couldn’t help but notice you’re participating in NaNoWriMo! As a fellow participant, may I lend you some encouragement to keep going ~ it is a noble endeavor!

  2. Steve says:

    I see where you’re going with this, but it’s a bit depressing. To carry this thought on far enough, it would seem that God is an over-demanding father. I think there are times when God sits back and says, “Do you see my son, Rick? Do you see how he faithfully serves me?” A proud Father. Sure there are times when we don’t make Him so proud, but this line of thought seems to edge towards a works-driven righteousness. I agree that we can never earn our way into heaven, but surely there are some things that we do right when God asks us. Abraham was faithful, and God accounted him as righteous because of his faithfulness.

  3. Rick says:

    Hmm – well, that’s the exact opposite of where I thought I was going. Might have to follow this one up with another post. Because I think the problem is that we’ve tended to see Him as an over-demanding Father, but He’s not that way – at least when you really start to get to know Him. Like our own parents. They haven’t changed that much over the span of lifetime, but when we were younger, they were scary. Sort of. πŸ™‚

  4. Caryn says:

    I think Rick and Kimberly are totally right at the same time… so much of what God seems to reveal to us is paradoxical. That He is a fiery judge as well as a comforting father. That my good works are both “filthy rags” and also “accounted to me as righteousness.” I wonder if when we get to heaven we will be able to see Him as a fully integrated whole. While here on earth, it’s a collage of paradoxes, “through a glass darkly,” like the glass is shattered so all we see are the bits and pieces. I don’t find it depressing at all. I think it’s wonderful. We can never exhaust the getting-to-know-You process.

  5. Rick says:

    Stopping by twice in one week? Wow πŸ™‚ – thanks, Caryn. Yes, it’s the paradox and the conundrum and the sound and the fury, isn’t it?
    I don’t think Steve will mind being called “Kimberly” – he’s man enough for that.

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