The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to repent (Mark 1:15). This repentance implies willingly placing ourselves under the light of God’s word. As we read God’s word, we are hit with God’s gracious love and forgiveness. His light exposes our darkened understanding and separation from the life of God (Eph. 4:18). God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Our sorrow turns to joy as we accept Christ’s gracious offer of forgiveness and commit ourselves to serving the “living and true God” (1 Thess. 1:9).
As a consequence of repentance, now, in humility we reach out to others, asking for forgiveness and making amends for all the wrong we have done. The positive and creative turning toward the source of life and renewal in God enables us to turn outward. A heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh, and every emotion, thought, and feeling changes. God is at the center of a repentant heart; God who was revealed at the cross as justice and holy love. Therefore, submission to this God of reconciliation, directs us to build positive relationships in our lives.
Repentance is the route to a renewed life in Christ. Jesus used the example of Nineveh. This city was self-destructing as a result of oppression and dishonor, violence and injustice. Yet, the entire city was spared destruction because after hearing Jonah preach they through corporate repentance and spiritual renewal (Luke 11:32).
As such, repentance is not a once and for all act of renouncing the wayward life. Rather, it is a continuing process of choosing to focus on God and others. John warned those who came out to be baptized, saying, “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). Our lives must reflect our repentant heart on a daily basis. As members of God’s family (John 1:12), it is our responsibility to shift our conduct from self-serving to self-giving.