Saturday, December 10, 2016
Repent is one of the big, dramatic words in Christianity; and fortunately is always aimed at other people. It's not that we don't do wrong things ourselves, it's just that there are perfectly good reasons for the things we do that serve as mitigating factors. It's always Those People who are guilty of aiding, abeting or committing truly terrible injustices or systemic wrongs; engaging in immoral or destructive behavior; trafficking in lies; and so on. We're not perfect, but we're better than that, and they need to get over their attitude in criticizing us.
"Repentance" means turning around, and changing course. That's a difficult thing to do when our forward momentum is as great as it often is; because the things that we most need to repent of are so deeply embedded in our culture that we often don't grasp how complicit we are in what our society does. A man may repent of taking his wife for granted for the sake of watching football but never realize his deeper indifference to women's dignity because it is so entrenched in his culture; or he may repent of personal acts of bigory but never grasp how unequally society continues to treat African Americans 150 years after emancipation -- and may bristle at suggestions that things are as bad as all that. And so the ship barrels steadily toward the rocks and toward ruin because the sin remains unrepented of.
Repentance comes with difficulty for an individual, and is virtually impossible for a society -- one of the reasons Justice walks among us, arguing for those who have been wronged and urging us to listen, so that the twins Redemption and Renewal can be born.
Copyright © 2016 by David Learn. Used with permission.