My mind has been focused on change lately. Because, I don't want to get to the end of my life and conclude that I wasted it. I want to look back and see tangible evidence that I invested everything I could into pursuing Christ's reign in all of life over all the earth for God's glory. I believe I've been veering off course. I need to change. I need to keep changing. The gospel demands it.
So what should I do?
Go back to the basics and review.
God's providence has lead me to focus on a specific bible verse - Mark 1:15. I am amazed at the pinpoint precision of Jesus' first words as he began his public ministry. He said in Mark 1:15, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.". Jesus' announcement seems to be about the current state of the union - the kingdom of God. Jesus' words seem to give context to the meaning of life and human existence. He seems to be bringing the whole Old Testament to one single point in time and presenting the people a command. Now that He has arrived the command is "to repent, and believe in the gospel."
The Overlooked Piece of Repentance
The command from Mark 1:15 is to repent. I checked several dictionaries (English and Bible.) I also asked some family and friends to get their perspective. The general meaning of repentance is to turn away from sin and turn back to God. Fair enough. I would have said the same thing. But all these definitions along with the present age of psychological focus on feelings and behavior modification seem to greatly blur, if not dismiss, the original meaning of biblical repentance.
I need to know the real meaning of this word, repent, in Mark 1:15. Bare with me, I need to look to the original Greek language. The transliterated word from the original Greek in Mark 1:15 is Metanoeo. It means to change one's mind. I have to admit in the past I tended to focus on feeling sorry for my sins. I focused on feeling differently. Often this caused me to wait on a feeling before I made changes, because if I didn't "feel it", then I wasn't really repenting. This is twisted thinking. Not biblical.
Repentance begins with changing the mind. First, thinking differently. Focusing my thoughts on God and reexamining everything in my life. Feelings are irrelevant in the initial workings of repentance. Feelings flow out of thoughts.
All this matters to to me because it involves action. I want to have an active faith. I want to actively engage with Jesus everyday in everything. I may have oversimplified biblical repentance. But changing my mind about every situation I encounter every day is where repentance starts. Thinking is something I can do and it is not passive like waiting around for feelings. Thinking differently is the overlooked more important piece of biblical repentance.