Conversion and “Repentance” Evangelical Catholic VI? or VII?

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

18  When they heard this, they stopped their criticism and praised God, saying, “Then God has given to the Gentiles also the opportunity to repent and live!” Acts 11:18 (TEV) 

1  So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. 2  Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (TEV) 

8  But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. 9  Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits 10  and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.   Colossians 3:8-10 (TEV) 

Conversion— metanoia, in the New Testament Greek— is a lifelong matter for evangelical Catholics. Whether one is baptized as an infant or an adult, and no matter how old one is upon first meeting the Lord Jesus in a personal way, the Christian life as proposed by Evangelical Catholicism is one of constant conversion. That process continues until the moment of death, which the Christian should approach as the moment in which the gift of life is offered to the Creator: with gratitude for that gift having been redeemed by the Son, and with confidence that death is, in the power of the Spirit, the moment of transition and purification into a fuller encounter with the Holy Trinity. Living toward death in that way requires a lifetime of preparation, a lifetime of deepening one’s friendship with the Lord Jesus, the conqueror of death. (1)

These are words we are used to dealing with in the church, conversion and repentance.

Yet to adapt a line from the classic movie of movies, the Princess Bride, I think we don’t know what these words mean!

Weigel nails it – when he ties the word metanoia  which is often translated “repentance” to the word conversion.  For indeed repentance and conversion should communicate the same thing – and they often don’t.

I’ve often heard people talk about repentance as our turning our direction, doing a spiritual 180 from heading towards death, to changing to heading towards heaven.  Or some will argue that it means to be contrite and sorrowful for sin.   While contrition is part of it, there is more involved.  For the Greek word breaks apart into “change” and “mind” – calling us to do what Paul will challenge the Philippians to do – to  Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus,  ( Philippians 2:5 (BBE)   Conversion is, having the mind of Christ, one that is not set on things of this world, but rather, things which are heavenly (1  You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2  Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 (TEV)

Like so much else of scripture, this is easier to say, than it is to do, hence the need for daily repentance, daily conversion.  It is why Luther would remind us to start and end each day thinking of our baptism, about what God did there.  For we all to soon forget, and live far too often trying to avoid or deal with the consequences of guilt and shame.  But our struggle isn’t that within ourselves, for we can’t fix our brokenness.  We can’t erase our sin.  It is finding the humility to look to God, to receive the gift of conversion, of cleansing, of receiving the blessing of renewal, as God provides for us in word and sacrament, as He calls us from the death of sin, to live – and live as Weigel puts it – towards the return of Christ – either when He returns at the end in all of His glory, or when He calls us home.

For there we find another promise fulfilled, 6  And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (TEV)

You see, that is the concept of conversion  – it is not us striving with all our might to change ourselves, and more than a baby can change it’s dirty diaper.  It is instead – taking a breath – remembering who our Lord and Savior is, turning to Him and finding revealed to us that He has done this thing, He has changed us, and is changing us.

May we become more and more aware of the mercy shown to us, as the Holy Spirit molds us, renews us, and restores us to the image in which we are created.

Godspeed my friends!

(1)  Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (pp. 67-68). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on April 13, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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