If there was a list of “church” words that get used out of context I would have to think that the word “repentance” would be right there toward the top. I’m convinced that countless Christians, who have no clue what the word means, love to throw it around. I myself, have unintentionally used it out of context on numerous occasions.
In his wonderful book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson paints a great picture of what repentance is really all about:
Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.
Repentance is the most practical of all words and the most practical of all acts. It is a feet-on-the-ground kind of word.
In my opinion, repentance, is Jesus’ invitation to freedom, joy, and the life He’s designed for you!!