The Kingdom of God

“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Mt. 4:17)

I had taken off a few months from visiting the vets at the jail.  When I walked into the cell, a guy greeted me by giving me a hug and saying he had been praying for me.  I was surprised because he had previously been surly and sullen.

As I was getting caught up with the group, the guy who had greeted me raised his hand. I nodded at him and he said, “I know you [pointing to me] remember what I used to be like.  This program is changing me.  I used to be so full of anger I just wanted to hurt people.  Not anymore.  I brought all the trouble in my life upon myself, and blaming others was just messing me up.”

He was on a roll, and continued:  “Is the system unfair to black men? Yes! Is it unfair to poor folks? Yes, I’ve still got to pay for what I did.  I feel such grief for the pain I’ve caused my family.  I needed to be thrown into this jail to wake up my sorry-…. I want to leave here a better man, better son, better dad.   I still have some changing to do and I need the help of everyone here.”

The man stopped speaking.  The cell got real quiet.  One man began to clap. Then they all clapped. The man began to cry.  Others joined him.

This man demonstrated what it means to repent.  To repent is to feel remorse for what we have done; and then it’s to turn away from our sin, change our heart and mind, and intend amendment of life.

Jesus commands us to repent in today’s scripture. There’s no one who doesn’t need to do so.  There’re no exemptions because we all sin, make mistakes, fall short, mess up, do hurtful things.   Some of us may need to repent from not wanting to repent, or from thinking we don’t need to.

Jesus began His ministry by commanding people to repent. Jesus continues His ministry by commanding us to do the same.  I encourage us to consider how Jesus is calling us to repent right now.  Whenever we do, the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When have you repented in your life? What or who helped you to make the turn-around, the change, the transformation?
  1. Do you need to repent right now? If you don’t think so, you may need to reconsider.  Does that make you uncomfortable?  If so, good. So, again, how do you need to repent?
  1. Do you want more of the Kingdom of God in your life? If so, are you willing to ask Jesus how you might need to be changed, renewed, and transformed?

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