On the first Sunday of Lent 2018, I was asked to preach for my congregation. It’s always an honor to preach, but I LOVE the process of exegesis, studying scripture and allowing it to speak its truth (as opposed to the way so many others approach scripture, using it to “prove” what they think or believe.)
This is an edited video, but still nearly-full-sermon-length. Will you take a few minutes to listen?
Our inherited understanding of repentance would teach us to focus on our sins, promise to stop doing bad things, go forth and do better and believe in the good news of Jesus. But there’s a disconnection there. And that’s because of what we just learned about the word actually recorded in Greek that Jesus used: metanoia. Jesus said to be of a changed mind (by way of baptism of the Holy Spirit.) There’s certainly a place for contrition for sin, but, for Jesus, walking away from sin was about a changed mind. And it isn’t something we do for ourselves – this is what God does in us! There’s a lot of room for failure in our concept of “repentance” because, well, humans. As stated before, with a changed mind and a new understanding of God’s relationship to mankind, our behavior will most certainly change also. We can’t hope to reflect Jesus in our behavior, however, if we are not first like-minded with Jesus. This is the gift of the Holy Spirit that brings us to metanoia.
So, if I could offer my amplified version of “repent and believe,” it would look like this:
Let your mind be changed (about the way you relate to God) and be assured that what Jesus’ ministry accomplished (relating to God according to the new covenant) is, indeed, good news for you and me and the entire world!
During this Lenten season, may I suggest that you focus on three things as you seek to allow the Spirit of God to change your mind?
- You are a beloved child of God. Let that sink in.
- You have a God-ordained mission. Seek to grasp it fully.
- As the Spirit of God leads you into your time of preparation, integrating your mind, body and spirit toward your mission, allow the Spirit to change you in any and all aspects of self.
Our Holy God, thank you for the good news that You do, indeed, reign, and help us to be of a changed mind, making us more and more like Jesus. Amen.