Posted by: edsohn | February 13, 2008

Repentance

Repentance. The “R” word. A word that carries stigma, offense, and smacks of the old Reformed times, or the Korean church. Images are conjured of people kneeling, swaying back and forth, hitting the ground or beating their chests, maybe even slapping their own faces.

I know that feeling; there’s a holy frustration that comes from seeing just how mired in sin we sometimes are. It boils up and creates an instant of self-loathing (hopefully just an instant, not a constant) and yes, you DO want to beat up on yourself. It may not be the end of repentance, but it certainly is a passing phase sometimes.

I bring it up because I’ve recently done some soul-searching. I’ve peered into the mirror, glimpsing my own countenance, even as my filters and lenses are fluid these days, even as my metrics are dynamic and my bearings are in tension. And I don’t feel this deep conviction of sin, or this idea that I have wronged against a Great Moral Law, or that I have disobeyed God and am hiding in shame in the bushes of the garden. It’s not that feeling of guilt, or shame, or even wrongdoing. I just don’t like the entire spectrum.

I’m fed up with myself.

This isn’t much of a blog post. There’s nothing deep going on here, and perhaps nothing articulable. All I know is that while I’m not resorting to self-generated guilt and a mindset of ascetic cleansing, I’m also done patting myself on the back and drifting through existence. There is more to repentance than self-loathing my dirt or the happiness of being clean (two sides of the same coin). Without assigning heavy moral values or saturating everything with a sense of rightness, I want to wrestle to attain a fundamental, game-changing difference.

Is that repentance?

The apostle Peter said repentance brings a time of refreshing. I don’t think it’s just refreshing like obtaining that clean feeling you get when you are in a clean room and lying in a clean bed with clean sheets after a clean shower. (That’s a great feeling though.) I think it’s refreshing because it changes everything, and it makes life completely new, and the feeling of being integrated into something far far bigger than me.

That’s what I want. I want to be overwhelmed, totally short-circuited in all of my senses, overpowered and overflowing. I am so sick of the running commentary that psychoanalyzes and philosophizes and theologizes everything that happens in my life.

Is that repentance?

Too existentialist? I don’t know or care. But I’m fixed on the fact that for me, in this season of life, repentance doesn’t look like going from dirty to clean, or from “bad” to “good”. Nietzsche writes a lot against dogmatism, moral systems (and he includes religion in the confines of human systems) and pushes hard for transcendence. Maybe placing value on transcendence itself is arrogant, or even still systematic and assigning a value judgment, but I really jive with that feeling right now. I want to go from a place that is pathetic and small to a place that is unimaginably world-shaking.

Maybe it’s just me biting off more than I can chew, but I’m done with small repentance. Reversing my moral polarity is not a small deal, but it’s not enough in and of itself. I want something much, much bigger, and I want to never be happy with anything but that.

For it is not only purity, or cleanness, or holiness that defines “God’s glory”. Glory means WEIGHT, worth, significance. If I’m living a life in God’s glory, that means I’m living a life in the weight and significance of the infinite God. Why should I ever feel as if that’s something I can handle, or even define? And my great sin that I’m done clinching onto is keeping things limited so that I can be in control, be God of my own universe.

I’m done. I give up. I want to be made stupid and tiny, because it’ll mean that something of far greater worth is blanketing my life.

For now, for me, I think that’s my repentance.

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Responses

  1. amen bro.

    it’s amazing how big and serious sin is as well as how small and unimportant it is as a focal point.

    i’m reminded however of how blessed we are to even have these struggles… if that makes sense.

  2. I think sin has always been about are we in fellowship with God or are we not?
    Repentance is getting us from where we’re not into a place where we are.


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