Repenting in the good

In the wake of Jeremiah’s ministry and the sad downfall of the southern kingdom of Judah; Ezekiel calls out to the exiled Israelite community that they should, “repent and live”!  His prophetic appeal is that they can still turn from their evil ways and choose the right path of God’s promises.

This is of course and good thing, and part of what it means to repent.  The emphasis place on repentance in western Christian communities is usually around this theme: Turn from your worldly ways.  However, there is another part to repentance that is at least overlooked and at most, under-appreciated.  Israel is challenged to repent in tumultuous times, ultimately because of poor behavior and sinful attitudes of the heart.  However, repentance also has a role to play in the good parts of our lives; the joyous and victorious parts as well as the bad.

The greek word for repent literally means to change one’s mind.  Change your mind.  See things differently; but not just differently, see things the way God sees them.  Allow your thinking to be transformed in a manner that is so profound that your are literally changed on the inside so that the outside follows.  As Paul so eloquently states it in Romans, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  In this light it isn’t so hard to see why this leads us to the confirmation of God’s will.

A new job.  A new church plant.  That well deserved vacation.  The wedding of a loved one.  Christmas.  Even a simple weekend BBQ.  These are just some examples of the good moments that life may offer us.  It does seem unusual to suggest that we might repent in these times.  Or does it?

When life throws us a curve ball or when we’ve done something stupid, the drama itself is enough to send us reeling and seeking God’s face.  Yet when things are going well; when we’ve experienced any one example of life’s favorable moments, we tend to go on autopilot.  This could prove to be the missing link in our personal journey of sanctification.  What if, when we went through good times, we continued to ask God how it was that he wanted to change our minds and lives?

It may be yet another peril of our consumer culture that we assume our joys have no grander purpose than our consumption.  While we can safely conclude that God does in fact want us to enjoy these moments, it is even safer to conclude that he is always at work.  If he speaks in our pain, why wouldn’t he also speak in our victories?  The life that constantly seeks God is one which constantly takes the position of learner (aka disciple).  To humble ourselves in all seasons of life is to delve that much deeper into the fullness that God has promised us.

We’ll always emphasize the need to repent of/from the bad; but it may be time to also explore what it means to repent in/during the good!




Noun: A feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.  

-Oxford Dictionaries (

I didn’t discover the saving grace of Christ until late in high school.  Though I’d been to church, I wasn’t a church goer and certainly didn’t grow up in the Christian faith.  For me, coming to Christ was exciting.  I loved church and was almost recklessly drawn to all things Christian.  If there was a Bible study or youth meeting, I was there.

In my new faith, I was actually surprised to find out that so many “church kids” were bored, if not altogether disillusioned with the Church.  In some cases this sense of disappointment went beyond the particular faith community and was applied to either the larger church universal, or even the whole Christian faith.  While this was once news to me, it isn’t news to us now, especially for those of you that have fought this battle in your own life.  Though I was once easily frustrated by Church kids who seemed to so easily overlook the good things of their Christian faith, I have now become much more sensitive to their journey.

sad_man1One of the callings of college/young adult ministry is dealing with disillusioned youth.  If you’re going love these kids, this is an inevitable factor in the stages of late adolescence.  Some are still reeling from the consequences of their parents’ divorce.  Some have seen moral failures of Christian leadership.  Some have sat under the leadership of an older generation that makes no effort to cross the generational-culture gap.  

Obviously this list could be longer, and is made up of things which are unfortunate realities in our churches.  We could talk about how to solve those things, which would be a worth while conversation.  However, I’d like to just remind us that the church will always be made up of people, and though we must strive to deal with our issues, there will never be perfection.  We simply can’t solve all of the causes of disillusionment in young people.

A better strategy is to simply not give up on them.  Our job is to remain available for relationship and conversation.  Though their disillusionment will at times be growing into bitterness, we need to remain patient and loving.  It seems that for many students the anger must run its course.  This is especially true when their criticisms are legitimate and well founded (admittedly, some are not).  Yet these criticisms are often unable to cast out all sensitivity to Christ and the Good News.  Thus we need to help them process their disillusionment and once again reveal to them the love of Christ in the midst of human brokenness.  In fact, maturity will hopefully reveal that the reality of Christ’s redeeming Grace amidst the foolishness of human institutions becomes is not only viable, but necessary.

Suddenly, disillusionment may become a path to maturity.  It may just be that for many students the inherent processing of disappointment and anger are a necessary byproduct of the world we live in.  Furthermore, if they must go through it, we can trust that the Holy Spirit can use it for long term transformation and maturity.  However, if that is the faith that we proclaim, we must accept our (the Church’s) role in sanctification.  Trusting that they’ll be better on the other side doesn’t mean waiting passively for it to happen; in fact, it may just prove to be the impetus for our diligent involvement in their lives.