About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Sorry" Doesn't Always Cut It
November 2013. If you type
the words "drunken stupor" into Google's search engine you'll
soon see the saga swirling around Toronto's mayor. Rob Ford has
been backed into a corner that he can't squirm his way out of.
Mayor Ford said "I'm sorry" for smoking crack cocaine.
He then added that he smoked the crack while in a "drunken
stupor", suggesting it wasn't a conscious decision, so we should
just forgive and forget. It
was clear that he'd continue being the mayor of
New Jersey's governor Chris Christie
thinks President Obama shouldn't be "so lawyerly".
Christie said that Obama should admit that he misunderstood all
the ramifications of his own health care legislation.
Obama did say "I'm sorry" to those who lost a good
health care plan because of his health care plan.
What Obama didn't say "I'm sorry" for was his mistaken
understanding of his plan. Why
are politicians so reluctant to admit to their mistakes?
seen it all before, presidents, prime ministers, and politicians,
attempting to save face by covering up the truth.
When these attempts fail, a simple "I'm sorry"
accompanied by a tear or two is supposed to do the trick by causing us
to forgive and forget. Politicians
aren't the only ones with these problems.
Pastors, preachers, priests, and the rest of us, suffer from this
denial. Some struggle with
denial more than others, but when it comes right down to it, we're all
guilty. It's called sinful
human nature. It's inbreeded
in us from birth as seen in Adam's denial.
"The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit
and I ate it". (Genesis 3:12) In
other words, "it's Eve's fault, not mine".
This is why Jesus demands genuine repentance before all is
forgiven and forgotten.
Greek word "metanoeo" is translated as "repent" in
the New Testament. "Metanoeo"
is made up of "meta", meaning "after", and,
"noeo", meaning "to perceive".
In terms of Greek language "metanoeo" means "to
perceive something after the fact".
In terms of Greek culture "metanoeo" or
"repent" means "to change one's mind after rethinking
culture viewed repenting from sin in terms of "changing one's mind
about sin". That's
pretty much our western concept of repentance today. This
is seen in Rob Ford's public admission to messing up.
After being exposed he was forced to rethink things through.
In this process he changed his mind and figured crack smoking
didn't do much for his reputation, so he uttered a simple "I'm
sorry" to help us forgive and forget.
it comes to understanding the New Testament, it's not enough to know
what a Greek word means. We
must understand how the Bible uses a Greek word because the Bible often
enhances the meaning of these words, as it does with the word
when it comes to "metanoeo", Biblical culture and context will
tell us how to understand repentance.
New Testament was written primarily in Greek by Jews, or in Luke's case,
a Gentile influenced by Jewish thought.
This means Jewish thought and culture is incorporated into the
enhanced Biblical meaning of "metanoeo".
Culturally speaking, Jews understood "metanoeo" or
"repentance as being more than just changing one's mind about sin,
as the Greeks understood repentance.
For Jews, repenting meant to "walk away from sin".
There's a huge difference between the two concepts, which few
repentance is the process by which we admit to our sin, change our mind
about our sin, and then walk away from our sin.
Only after these three steps are taken can we or God Biblically
forgive and forget. John the
Baptist got it right when he told the hypocritical Pharisees to
"produce fruit in keeping with repentance". (Matthew 3:7 - 8)
Simply put, prove that you've genuinely repented and then all
will be forgiven and forgotten.
Ford's crack smoking isn't the only issue when it comes to his
constituents. His misleading
statements and overt lies, which he hasn't apologized for, have breached
the trust he had with his constituents.
A simple "I'm sorry" does not mend broken trust.
Only genuine, visible, and provable, repentance mends broken
trust. Words are meaningless
if not backed by relevant actions. This
is why Jesus demands repentance before we can hand our lives over to Him
in a trusting relationship. In
Biblical terms, it's not possible to have genuine faith without genuine
Biblical fact is that before one can forgive and forget there must be
practical and provable fruit in keeping with repentance.
If we lower the bar of repentance to merely saying "I'm
sorry", we encourage hypocrisy by allowing one to say one thing but
do another. Beyond
that, a weakened and distorted view of repentance changes the gospel of
Christ into a different gospel, which "is no gospel".
(Galatians 1:7) Understanding
Biblical repentance is one serious matter.
We cannot get it wrong.