By Jason Bowman
The Bible most commonly refers to those who follow Jesus as disciples. In our exploration of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, we will begin at the start of his ministry. In his first public preaching, Jesus called people to do two things: repent and believe (Mark 1:15). These two elements form a vital foundation to a life of discipleship. This week we will consider the first: repent.
The Greek word (μετανοέω) that is translated repent means to change one’s mind (1). It describes a conversion from thinking one way to thinking another way, which results in living differently. When someone repents, he or she first recognizes their current path is wrong, and as a response, turns and takes the right path. When Jesus first announced that the Kingdom of God was now at hand, it led him to exhort everyone to repent or to change the way they think in order to embrace the way of the Kingdom of God.
My family and I like to hike. Occasionally, we head down a wrong path, one that becomes too difficult or too filled with bugs or prickly plants. When we recognize it is a wrong path, we turn and go a better direction. We repent. As a disciple of Jesus, when we recognize the path we are on is wrong, Jesus calls us to repent and get back on the path where he is leading us.
Repentance needs to be practiced in both large and small ways. When we commit grave sin in our lives, being a disciple means we admit our rebellion and seek to turn from it by getting back on the path that follows Jesus. It also means that on a daily basis we take stock of how we are thinking, how we are treating others, how we are responding to the Holy Spirit and how we are obeying the Word of God. When we find our lives on a different path than Jesus is on, we confess and turn back to his path.
We cannot be disciples of Jesus without regular repentance because we regularly stray from the path. To be disciples, we must eagerly and continually practice changing our minds to match the mind of Jesus.
Try taking an inventory of your day. Here are some questions you could ask yourself :
How did you treat others today?
How have you trusted or not trusted God today?
How have your thoughts been consistent or inconsistent with Jesus today?
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you repent of those things you need to change. Begin to practice this every day for the next 5 days as a starting point.
(1) Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 640). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.