When you Hear the Word Repent – What Image Comes to Mind? Confession? The Image of a Crazy Person? – Here’s the True Meaning of Repent
You’ve seen the image in movies and on street corners – A disheveled person with wild, hair, holding a cardboard sign with the scribbled words in bold, black print – Repent! The End is Near! – Or Repent! The Kingdom of God is Near! Sometimes they’re shouting and sometimes they have a look of quiet madness.
When we see someone like this on the street, our reactions are varied; we snicker, ignore them, feel uncomfortable or just dismiss them as crazy and go about our business.
The most famous person for declaring this word, repent, was John the Baptist. In the third chapter of Matthew, Jesus is beginning his ministry. This is when we meet John the Baptist, a wild, crazy, preacher who eats locusts with wild honey as his meal of choice. He went around the Desert of Judea preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
The English translation of repent means to feel sorry for a past action and to feel such remorse for that action as to change your ways. Interpreting this raving lunatic preacher shouting, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” we hear the message as – “You better confess and change your ways before it’s too late!” But that’s not what he was saying at all.
Sometimes we forget that the Bible was not written in English. It was translated into English. The word, repent, that John the Baptist was using comes from the Greek word – “metinoua”. This word means to change the way you think, how you see, how you make meaning, how you understand everything.
We cannot recognize the kingdom of God until we change the way we think. There is a quote that illustrates this point that I find myself saying when I am upset in a situation. I’ve heard it from Dr. Wayne Dyer and the quote is, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Our emotional conditioning tends to be quick to judge, to be right, no matter what, and to not always find the good in a situation. When we have the ability to see things differently, we can see the good. We can see the Kingdom of God.
So, repent! The Kingdom of God is near. Not such a crazy thought after all.