Often we find that people associate particular emotions or resolve into the term repentance. Brokenness, remorse, guilt, shame, rededication and self-introspection are often demanded if a person’s repentance is to be assessed as genuine. However, if this is the model we apply we inevitably are confronted with a couple of episodes recorded in the scriptures which challenge our understanding.
Eros love demands that a person does something to earn its approval and forgiveness. However, God operates on a completely different level through His unconditional Agape love. Thus He is eagerly waiting for the prodigal son to return, even running to meet and embrace Him. This son erroneously thought that his Father had nothing more than Eros to offer him, so before he went home he had planned what he would tell his Father when he returned including all the necessary phrases and resolves. But, the Father wouldn’t listen to any of it on account of His agape love.
This parable tells us that repentance is simply turning to Jesus. If we put anything else into this expression we demonstrate our predilection towards a legalistic system of reward and punishment. We are also confronted with the thief on the cross who simply turned to Jesus and was saved. He had nothing to show for himself except faith in God’s grace.
Often God’s grace and generosity is too much for the human mind to grasp. We don’t like that God makes it so easy for persons to be reconciled to Him. We prefer to think that they must put in an effort to better themselves first or that they display all the emotions we associate with repentance so that they can deserve His kindness.
We are designed to be spirit people. When Eve and Adam fell the only thing we had left was our flesh. We knew somehow that something was missing. Man began thus searching for the meaning of life outside his original design. As a flesh person man exalted wisdom, intellect, progress and even sex as the meaning of their existence. They missed the goal, which is sin.
The meaning of life is simply to walk in a relationship with the Creator. Anything less than that is missing the target. Repentance is thus to turn from our futile and void pursuit of what seems to the flesh as the ultimate meaning of life and turn to God. The thief on the cross did exactly that, turned to Jesus and was saved. Moreover, we are continually saved by His ascended life, and we continue our process of repentance after we are saved by dismissing our misguided ideas concerning God’s agape love and replace them with the stupendous truth.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:42-43)