Repent and Believe
By Jim Hardenbrook
“The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15
Jesus’ message was perplexing, yet simple: The kingdom of God is available, but repentance and belief are required to enter that kingdom.
Sometimes I’m perplexed by Jesus’ insistence that we believe. Of course, we believe! But do we? I wonder. Jesus often asked those closest to him, “Do you still have no faith?” Yet he was surprised when he observed faith. Remember his
reaction to the Roman commander in Luke 7:9?
Do we believe what Jesus said about worry, or forgiveness, or loving those who curse and hurt us, or commitment, or material possessions, or eternal judgment.
Maybe that’s why repentance is linked with belief. When we get close enough to observe and hear Jesus, we clearly see that he proposes a life radically counter to our culture and nature. If we believe him, change (or repentance) is mandatory. Eugene Peterson wrote, “[Repentance] is always and everywhere the first word in the Christian life.” The hardest thing to change is the way we think. That change, essential if not easy, inevitably leads to a changed lifestyle.
Lent is a time of repentance. Years ago I had a cancerous tumor removed. Because of surgery the cancer was survivable. But without surgery, it would have killed me in five or six years. Sin and unbelief are survivable, but only when repentance enters the picture. I had to submit to the advice and scalpel of my surgeon. When will we submit to the call and command of Jesus, “Repent and believe?”
Lord Jesus, thank you for making God’s kingdom available. In this season of repentance, reveal whatever is keeping us out. Amen