Make straight paths for him

Matthew 3: 1-3 "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

Yesterday we talked about kairos moments - a point in time where we see the world a little differently than how we'd seen it before. So after these kairos moments, what comes next? Well, after we've reflected for a bit on the question or questions that the kairos moment brought to us ("Who do I say Jesus is?" "What about my behavior is harming others?" "Why do I do this thing the way I do it?"), the next step should be to repent. 

Greg pointed out that the word used for "repent" in the Bible often has a connotation of "changing your mind." So repentance can sometimes mean that we change our mind about a sinful or harmful behavior, but it can also mean that we change our mind about other things (like how we understand God or salvation). John the Baptist's call to repentance in Matthew 3 is one that "makes straight paths" for the Lord. What an interesting idea - that repentance makes it easier for Jesus to enter into our world.

This is a pretty radical shift for my own thinking. I often associate repentance with shame and humiliation. Of course, I have had to repent of some pretty shameful behavior in my lifetime, but thinking of repentance in this new way helps me separate the shame I feel at my behavior from the joy and release that I should actually feel at repentance. What happens if we cease to be afraid of the word "repent" and start thinking of it as call to change and growth, rather than as a shameful humilation? For me, at least, I think that might mean I'm more willing to repent or change my mind in the future. What does it mean for you?

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