Our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study here at Legacy is going quickly through C. S. Lewis’ classic Christian apologetic, Mere Christianity. I was captured all over again this week by Lewis’ brief, but mighty, description of repentance:
“Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor — that is the only way out of the ‘hole.’ This process of surrender — this movement full speed astern — is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing a part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”
In our zeal to formulate salvation, to reduce God’s eternal plan for his creation down to an orderly handful of requirements, we’ve done the world a disservice and cheapened God’s grace.
By claiming for decades and generations that one has to repent first, confess next, and then be baptized in order to be saved has implied that these are all one-time steps to salvation. The truth is, we must repent every single day. Every day. Every morning when I wake up, as I’m turning off the alarm and getting ready to start another day in God’s Kingdom, I have to intentionally turn my life around. This world and its culture and its history, my human-ness and my nature and my surroundings, all have me going in the wrong direction. Every morning when I wake up, my tendency, because of my world, is to go in a way that is opposed to the will of my God for my life. I have to determine every morning that today I will live for Christ. Today I will not do such and such. Today I pledge to certainly do this and that. Today I repent from what my own instincts and impulses are pushing me to do, I turn away from what my nature says is in my best interest, I reject what my will wants. I surrender. I give up. None of self and all of Thee.
Repentance is an on-going process. So is Christian confession. It’s realizing, more every day, that Jesus is Lord of every part of my life. There’s not a time or a place that Christ does not sovereignly rule. Jesus is Lord in my driving habits, in my conversations, and in my work and play. Jesus is Lord over this blog, over every website I visit, over every email I write. He is Lord over every interaction I have with my wife, my children, my church family, my neighbors, my enemies. He is Lord when I pray. And he is Lord when I watch TV. I confess that every day. And I repent.
Today I return to my Lord and Master. Today I submit to his will. Today I promise to live for him and others, not for myself. Today I vow to act and to speak and to think in ways that bring my God glory.