Imagine receiving a message so good that it caused you to re-think your entire life. The bank made a mistake years ago calculating your mortgage and suddenly now they tell you your house is paid off. In fact, they owe you a rebate as well. A total stranger has paid off your student loans. Your abusive husband has turned a corner and now treats you like a queen. The doctors call to say the diagnosis was wrong and you don’t have cancer after all. All of these examples represent the best kind of news: no more coupon-clipping; your future is no longer clouded by debt; no more walking on egg-shells, afraid that some trivial event will anger your spouse; your fears of endless treatments and medicines vanish in a moment. Who wouldn’t welcome such great news? But the day after such a wonderful event you find yourself worried about money, afraid that your husband will relapse, or you wake up in a sweat thinking about hospitals and death. Old habits die hard, and the habits of the mind may not die at all.
To receive good news, to really receive it—take it in and discover a new freedom—requires a new way of thinking. This new way of thinking has a Biblical name: repentance. I know: you thought it meant remorse, determination, trying harder or feeling guilty. Someone has lied to you. At its very core the word “repent” means rethink your life.
The trick is: you have to have a valid reason to rethink your life. A positive mental attitude is not enough; simply trying harder won’t change the world. There must be some hard-core reality that changes the equation, wipes away the past, or presents a future that cannot be denied. Bet yet, all three. Jesus presented that hard-core reality when he said, “The Kingdom of God is breaking in. Right here, right now.” He wasn’t describing some new program or advocating a new philosophy. Jesus challenged people to recognize that the world would be forever different because God had come down and he would do whatever was necessary to set people free.
God could not be stopped, the old order of things was condemned and a new order was made real. He invited us to move to the side of victory with these words: “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.”
Good news requires that we rethink our way of life. Have you recalculated yours in the light of his Kingdom?