Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Gift of a New Life

Magazine article Anglican Journal

The Gift of a New Life

Article excerpt

REPENTANCE IS A concept that isn't very popular in contemporary society. You don't hear about it in mainstream culture, at least not in a positive way. Where you might expect to hear about it, as in the pulpit, it is strangely absent. It is hard for many of us to imagine any universe in which repentance might be considered a gift, but this is exactly the way our ancestors and elders welcomed it--the gift of a new life.

Even people who desperately want a new life are likely to avoid thinking about repentance. The problem seems to be twofold: it is perceived to involve extreme effort at self-criticism and, after that, extreme effort at self-correction. All of this is imagined within the confines of one's own individual strength. God doesn't appear to be involved until later, offering rewards to those who change. For many people, schemes like these conflict with concepts of a God of love and, even if not, they seem humanly impossible, to the point of cruel expectation.

Ancient and biblical concepts of repentance are very different. Repentance is the grace-filled motion, within the human heart, of the original and primal impulse to seek life in God. It is met--like Ezekiel's wheel within a wheel--with a corresponding motion of grace from God. …

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