The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2Peter 3:9, TNIV)
“Repent” is a big word. When we hear it, we think, “Wow, I need to change!” As a Jesus follower though, I see this word as a response and a forward looking word.
The writer of 2 Peter is talking about God’s promise of being with us at the end of this age. I believe that he paints a picture of a God who loves us and pursues, who is patient with us. This is a God who does not desire for anyone to perish but for everyone to come to know what it means to be in loving relationship with God and others. It is a God who has demonstrated his great love for us through Jesus. Jesus, represents all of humanity and has made response for us, in effect has repented for us and we live in Jesus’ repentance for us.
“Repent” comes from the Greek word “metanoia” which means literally to “change one’s mind and heart”. It is something that is done in response to God’s grace through Jesus and God’s Spirit living inside of us transforming us from the inside out. Having our eyes opened by God to God’s actions on our behalf leads us to change our minds and hearts. It is something that I pray for daily. It does not happen all at once either, but I often see it in incremental change that eventually leads to major changes.
Being at Connect Day with my former church where I was associate pastor, Northminster and Fleming Road, where I’m the pastor now (only about a mile away from Northminster), was a great reminder of how God continues to shape and mold me in the experiences and friendships that God flows through. Especially in community with others over the years in one neighborhood! Sitting at lunch with friends from both Northminster and Fleming Road, I was reminded by a friend, Jim McGrath, the experience that we had together a few years ago, we had led a mission trip to an Indian reservation in New Mexico with my former church, Northminster Presbyterian. It was an amazing experience and we had many moments of “metanoia”.
Check out these statements from participants on that New Mexico trip:
“…God is present in our good times and in our bad times. In New Mexico, I learned to thank Him when I was comfortable and when I was uncomfortable. I grew as a follower of Christ and a leader of men and women. I was humbled by my inadequacies, and strengthened by His love. Through Him, I can do all things.” – Jake Towner, former Northminster student and family ministry staff
“…[God] spoke to me from the morning runs to VBS with the Navajo children. He also showed himself to me through all the beautiful nature and everybody that I met along the trip. From the women in the flea market to the children in the Bible school, I believe that everyone changed me no matter how big or small. I could feel God’s love extended to me through all of these people. I learned many lessons from these people and I could see God’s workings in them.” – Ben Stites, former Wyoming High School Student
My church, Fleming Road UCC, like all churches, is experiencing change right before our eyes. I know I am as I live in community with others here at Fleming Road UCC. We are catching glimpses of God’s work right before us, and if we let it, these glimpses will cause us to “repent”, to grow, to change. I know I am growing and changing in many ways as trust is built with members of our church and the community around us. It is humbling and always for the good in the long run. As I grow in my identity as the person God has created me to be, I am able to appreciate my past experiences, be present with where I am and who I am with, while also have a metanoia, a change of perspective, a conversion if you will, that propels me into a new future, a new trajectory. Not only personally, but in community with others. Sometimes that can be messy, hard…but, it’s always for the good.
Friends, this is the Good news of God’s Presence in our lives, I hope it’s good news to you!