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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Friday, February 20, 2015

REPENT AND BELIEVE

In just about every spiritual tradition there is prescribed the
importance of taking time alone in order to make changes in one’s
life. In Native American culture we know of the “vision quest” that
gives purpose and meaning to a person’s life. The Jesuits have a well
establish guide for 30 days called the Ignatian Exercises. Both of
these are intended as life changing events usually completed once in a
lifetime. It may be a once in a lifetime event or it may cyclical. The
spiritual life requires self-examination and at times some discipline
such as fasting. The season of Lent is intended for just this purpose.

Many churches encourage a yearly retreat of a week more or less. The
business world borrows what a retreat can do spiritually and uses this
time for management or employees to renew or review their practices as
well as an opportunity to revive and inspire their people to improve.

Not all of us have the luxury of a retreat or the guidance for a
vision quest. By 325 A.D. the Christian Church had recognized the
need for a yearly season of reflection in order to follow the command
to “repent and believe”. This season varies by tradition in the West
for 40 days. In the East it extends to 50 days.

What does it mean to repent? Generally it is defined as regret and
sorrow for some wrong we have done. However closer to the biblical
Greek “metanoia” it means a “change of mind”. In business one may need
to make a change in order to keep up with the times e.g. going from
mimeographs to photocopies.

Spiritually the change of mind goes from giving up candy when we were
in Sunday school to an adult confronting the issues of end of life
issues. Circumstances change so quickly in life we can be shocked
into a new awareness or gradually made aware of the consequences of
behavior that now demand attention. This may be sickness such as
diabetes resulting from decades of poor eating and exercise habits or
the last child leaving home to start a new family. Some of these
circumstances are dramatic such as a young soldier going to war or a
freeway accident. One thing for sure, every year of our life has
events worthy of reflection and attention, and possibly a change of
the mind.

For Christians we are not only to repent but to believe. What are we
to believe? Believe the Gospel which we know is the “good news”. All
too often this is presented as “bad” news. Yes, a change of mind is
often needed. For the good news is we are loved, not condemned, we are
invited, not shunned. The good news is the power to change is
available to those who accept it. This change of mind is to better
ourselves and our world.

If what the person hears is condemnation they are less likely to stay
for the good news. But if the invitation to repent is to have a better
life, to live more fully, then the “good news” is welcomed news. The
“good news” is God can make it not only possible, but smoother. Need
proof of this? Consider the lives changed by Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA has helped millions improve their lives. Admitting one must change,
believing there is a power greater than ourselves, and surrendering to
that power has saved billions of people over the years. A.A. leads a
person to serious self-examination in taking a “searching and fearless
moral inventory of ourselves”. This is lent. This is repentance. What
follows is the spiritual journey.

That journey leads to a full life. That is truly good news. Try it now.

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