Seated outside drinking a cup of coffee at Starbucks the other day, I could not help overhearing a conversation taking place at another table around the corner, where a man was confidently giving his opinion on a variety of issues regarding world news. The conversation was cordially…I could not hear the other person…but came away pondering how some people by nature are overly confident and opinionated in their own point of view.
1 Corinthians 1:26 tells us: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”
One of the definitions of the word repentance is to turn around to go another way…to do an “about-face” in terms of military marching. True repentance entails in our lives and thinking an admittance of new open-mindedness and teachability…which in turn opens up the space for God to insert a journey of faith into our decision-making zone where previously we thought we had all of the answers…like the opinionated man at Starbucks.
We see two powerful examples of this in the New Testament. Paul is hit over the head with the blunt two-by-four wood board of the truth of the existence of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord…as Paul travels to the city of Damascus (Acts 9). Peter has to fail in the courtyard of Caiaphas during the night trial of Jesus, in order to see his inadequacy to fight in spiritual warfare in his own strength (Lk. 22:54-62).
We miss the obvious here. These accounts are inconceivable according to humanistic, worldly conventional norms and thinking. Genuine repentance that leads to a walk of faith following Jesus Christ is not something we fall into by accident or chance. It is not a reality that we stumble into and then confidently claim as our own opinionated view on life.
The examples of repentance that leads to faith-in-action recorded in the Bible…from beginning to end…could not be the invention of even creative fictional imagination…because of this central juncture of the turnaround…the turnabout…of repentance…which lies outside of human contemplation…without the existence and active participation of the transcendent reality of the living God.
These biblical experiences of repentance followed by a walk of faith…are of divine origin…because they could have no other source.