Good for Goose and Gander; One and All?

There is an old proverb that says: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! The meaning is: ‘What is good for a woman is equally good for a man.’ The principle is: What is good for one type is equally good for another type, despite any irrelevant differences between the types. Well, we live in a culture and society wherein it seems the rights of the individual are being promoted and respected over the good of the group, even if those rights are detrimental to the group of which the individual is a member.

I’ve been thinking about something that I am trying to ‘flesh-out’ to see if it is a universally applicable principle in view of the insistence of individuals to demand the right to express themselves, even if their expressions are contrary and harmful to the group. Here’s the principle I’ve been investigating: ‘If it is good or right for one or some; it should be good or right for all!’ Now, let’s see how that works with some of the issues that are being debated in our society today.

Let’s start with racism. If it is good or right for one or some people to be racist; it should be good or right for all people to be racist! But, what kind of world would it be if everybody was a racist? Would it be a world that anyone would want to live in? I don’t think so! I think it would be Hell! If everybody thought and acted like they were better or more privileged than everybody else, we would have the recipe for a chaotic and dangerous society!

And speaking of danger: What would society look like if it was good and right for everyone to own and carry guns? Well, we really don’t have to imagine what it would look like; we’ve already been there and done that: It was the era of the wild, wild west! You can see milder versions of what that was like by looking at old episodes of Gun-smoke, Rifleman, and Bonanza! As I am typing this post, I am recalling news reports of shoot-outs between gang members and law enforcement that rival and surpass the famous gun fight at the OK Corral!

At the risk of being labelled hateful and insensitive, I dare bring up the issue of homosexuality! If it is good and right for one or some people to be homosexual; it should be good and right for everybody to be homosexual. But what would our world look like if everyone was a practicing homosexual? In fact, perhaps an even greater question is: Would there be a world at all? It takes a man and a woman to have a baby. Would we really be at ease and satisfied with a generation of test-tube babies; all produced by artificial insemination? I don’t think we would!

What about criminal activity? If it is right and good for one or some people to be crooks, then it is good and right for all people to be crooks! But what kind of world would it be if everybody was a crook? If everyone was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a devious person, a pervert, or whatever? Do you see my point?

The point is this: Whether we like it or not, there are moral principles and guidelines that have been instituted by a Higher Power! Man, in his arrogance, likes to think of himself as being his own god! But, if everybody was their own god; society would break down into chaos! (By the way; since we have thrown off the yoke of the true God, this is exactly where we are headed!) Just because you may not like or agree with these moral principles, that doesn’t exempt you from their jurisdiction! People think it is OK to break God’s laws, but in the final analysis; they really don’t just break the law; the law breaks them! Our world is filled with people who are broken, disconnected and lost because of their attempt to be their own god! In the final analysis: What’s good for the goose may or may not be good for the gander, but it is not the right of the goose or the gander to decide what that ‘good’ is! That right is reserved only for the Creator of the goose and the gander! The Creator of the goose and the gander knows that there are some things that are good for the goose and the gander, but there are also some things that are good for the goose but not for the gander!

Fifty Years Later

I remember the day and I remember it well! I came home from school that Thursday afternoon to discover gospel music playing on the radio and my mother crying. I knew something was amiss because the local radio station that my mother listened to, would normally only play gospel music until noon. After the noon hour, the station would change to a rhythm and blues musical format. As for my mother crying, I had only seen her cry once before that time. It was one year earlier; February 14, 1967, the day the only grandfather I knew (her father) died. I asked my mother what was wrong, to which she replied: “King is dead!” At the time, I was a naïve seven-year-old with no clue as to what she was talking about and so I asked: “King who?” At that point, my mother sat me down and explained to me who Dr. King was and what was going on in America.

Fast-forward to fifty years later. My mother has been gone for 19 years and that naïve little seven-year-old is now a fifty-seven-year-old preacher and pastor. America, although much progress has been made, is still a nation wherein people are judged by the color of their skin more-so than the content of their character! It seems as if, for the most part, the only time some people talk about Dr. King, his dream and what happened is during Black History celebrations in February and on April 4; the anniversary of his assassination.

Tremendous progress has been made! We’ve even had a two-term Black President, but America is still a nation, wounded, handicapped, and scarred by racial prejudice and racial hatred. It’s 2018, and there are still people in this country today who still think “white is right” and “black and brown shouldn’t be around!” The nation has opted to elect a president who shows no apparent respect for the truth, the poor or the disenfranchised. Because of the climate this administration has allowed (encouraged?) closet racists have come out of their closets, boldly speaking with their lips dripping with the saliva of hatred and contempt for people who are not like them! Is this the America of Dr. King’s dream? In 1968, there was confrontation with the police and law enforcement in protest of the war in Vietnam. Today, there still seems to be a systemic problem and disparity between the treatment of Black and White suspects! Black suspects are more likely to be labelled as thugs, shot and killed ,while White suspects are more likely to be labelled as mentally ill, treated with respect and even given burger and fries before going to jail! Is this the America of Dr. King’s dream? Even in Black communities, it seems as if Black lives only really matter when they are taken by the police; otherwise, it seems to be acceptable for Blacks to kill one another over drug, family, or personal disputes! Is this the Black America of Dr. King’s dream? Even many in the church, who are supposed to be setting the moral climate of justice, righteousness and equality for the community have forsaken the path and succumbed to the lures of fame, prosperity, and money! Is this the church of Dr. King’s dream or even the church that Jesus established?

It is fifty years later! We’ve come a long way; but we have such a long way to go! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man in and for his own time. We must quit looking and waiting for ‘another King’ and be kings and queens in our own right in our own generation. We don’t have to go to Washington, we can be agents of change, sources of inspiration and hope, right where we are! It is past time for our actions to be limited to reminiscing about what others have done in the past. We can’t get full off of yesterday’s lunch; we must cook and eat for today! Deep down inside all of us is everything needed to make an impactful difference in the world today. It’s fifty years later; the question is not whether or not the dream is still alive because it has been alive for ages! It didn’t start with Dr. King because it was alive in the hearts of the ancient prophets who spoke of a God who desired justice to roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream!

It is fifty years later! Dr. King lived and was killed for what he believed in! What about you and I today? Are we willing to take the necessary risks to stand up for justice and righteousness or will we be content to settle for the comfort of our own private prosperity as long as we are not directly impacted by the injustices and ills that still plague our society? Will we be content to just ‘talk about it’ or will we rise up and ‘be about it?’ I’ve heard all my life an old axiom that says: ‘Prayer changes things!’ But, the older I get and the more I study ‘the Book,’ I am convinced that is not entirely accurate. Prayer is not designed to change things; prayer is designed to change people so that people might change things!

It is fifty years later: Thank you Dr. King for allowing prayer to change you so that you were inspired to be an agent of change in your generation! Hopefully, we will eventually understand that you didn’t live and die for us to just remember and talk about you, but rather so that things would be easier for us to make changes in our own generation.

The Right Rearview Mirror

In the 1940s many roads were unpaved and had only two lanes, one in each direction. Drivers had to be aware only of traffic on their side and directly behind them (rear view). Due to this, most passenger vehicles with an internal rear-view mirror until the late 1960s had the passenger-side mirror only as an optional addition, as it was considered a luxury. But as more lanes were added, the passenger-side mirror or the right rearview mirror became a necessity for safe driving. However, because of the distance from the driver’s eye to the passenger side mirror, a useful field of view can be achieved only with a convex or aspheric mirror. However, the convexity also minifies the objects shown. Since such objects seem farther away than they actually are, a driver might make a maneuver such as a lane change assuming an adjacent vehicle is a safe distance behind, when in fact it is quite a bit closer. In the United States, Canada, India, Korea and Australia, non-planar mirrors are etched or printed with the warning legend; objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

I was driving on the highway a few days ago in the inside left lane and as I was about to merge back into the right lane, I looked in my rearview mirror and then into my right rearview mirror and that’s when I noticed it like I had never noticed it before! The warning is true: Objects in the mirror (really) are closer than they appear! At that point, I began to think about the way we sometimes look at life. Sometimes, instead of looking at life the way it really is; through the windshield, or even the driver-side or internal rearview mirror, we purposely choose to view life through the right rearview mirror! When we do this, we attempt to fool ourselves into thinking we have more time than we actually have.

The project is almost due, but we have not even started because we’ve been looking in the right rearview mirror, refusing to believe the objects in the mirror are closer than they appear! Retirement is right around the corner, but we have made no real plans because we’ve been looking at life through the right rearview mirror, refusing to accept the fact that the objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. In both of these examples, we actually see the object in view, but instead of accepting the fact that the mirror has made the object appear farther away than it actually is, we choose to accept what we see in the mirror as reality!

I have noticed as of late that there are more people who seem to insist upon looking at death through the right rearview mirror! They really don’t plan for dying! Therefore, they refuse to even think about life insurance or pre-planning for their funeral. They are so busy living that they fail to prepare for dying! They are going through life, looking in the right rearview mirror, refusing to accept the fact that the object (death) in the mirror is closer than it appears!

How about you today? Are you looking at life through the right rearview mirror! Are you forgetting or ignoring the fact that the objects in the right rearview mirror are closer than they appear? One last point: If you go through life, looking through the right rearview mirror and you suffer a setback or a mishap because things were closer than you thought, don’t get upset with the mirror! The purpose of the right rearview mirror is not to show you how things really are, its purpose is just to show you that things are! Its purpose is to show you things that you might not otherwise see of because of blind spots. Instead of going through life blinded, the right rearview mirror affords you the opportunity to at least see, although somewhat distorted, what you might not otherwise see at all! But the mirror does not in any way attempt to deceive because etched in the mirror in plain view are the words: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

Being Blessed Is Not Enough!

It seems as if the main goal or the over-riding obsession in many Christian circles today is just to get blessings or to be blessed! Now, aside from our fundamental failure to understand that God has already blessed us with every blessing we will ever need (See Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3. Our real need is not for blessings or to be blessed more, but rather, to know how to access and appropriate the blessings we already have!), this emphasis on blessings also indicates another fault in our spiritual understanding. Let me show you what I’m talking about!

In God’s economy, blessings are not, and were never meant to be, the end, but rather, the means to the end! In other words, blessings were never meant to be our destination, but rather the means, tools, or vehicles used to aid and assist us in reaching our destination. When we are so captivated and fixated on blessings, we’re just like a person, so in love with their new car that they just drive around, without ever going anywhere! It is a ridiculous situation for a person to have a vehicle, only to use it to drive around, not understanding that the real purpose of the vehicle is not just to be driven around, but to be actually used to get from point A to point B! In like manner, many Christians are trying to exercise their faith to obtain blessings to just ‘drive around’ with no clue that the real purpose of blessings is transportation and facilitation!

So, when we make blessings or being blessed the main goal or objective, we err on two points! We err by trying to get what we already have! And then, we err by making the means the end instead of understanding the means’ purpose is to help us get to the end! Being blessed or having blessings without understanding their purpose to assist in reaching the destination is not enough! God created and blessed us for much more than that!

In Genesis 1:28, we read: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (ESV) Notice the wording of the text! God didn’t just bless them to bless them; God blessed them so that they would be in position to do something! God blessed them in order for them to fulfill their purpose, which was to be fruitful (productive), multiply, fill and subdue the earth, to have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living thing on the earth! They were blessed for the purpose of fulfilling their assignment! That’s the principle! God doesn’t bless just to bless; God blesses to enable, to empower, to facilitate the execution of His will! The mandate has not changed! The same order given to Adam and Eve has been passed down to us! We are not blessed just to be blessed, we are blessed in order to have and exercise dominion!

Now, what does it mean to have and exercise dominion? What was God doing in Genesis 1:28? God was commissioning Adam and Eve as His proxy rulers on earth! God blessed Adam and Eve so that they might rule the earth in His stead! The emergence of sin DID NOT negate or cancel the Dominion Mandate! In fact, that’s why Jesus came! Jesus came to deal with sin so that, through him, man’s capacity to fulfill the Dominion Mandate might be restored!

Oh! We are so limited and little in our thinking! While we are running around making what we already have the focus of our faith, God has a much grander idea for us! We just want to be blessed, but God wants us to be ‘god’ on earth! God wants us to be Him on earth! (I realized I am treading on what some might perceive to be slippery theological turf here. That’s why I used a little ‘g.’ We are not gods in the sense that we are deity, but rather in the sense that our purpose is to function as God’s representatives upon the earth.) Hence, our main objective should not be for God to bless us just so we might be healthy, wealthy, and wise, but rather our main objective should be that God might execute His will upon the earth through us! I heard a song, not too long ago, and the singer was pleading: “Lord, whatever You’re doing in this season, don’t do it without me!” Now, I understood what the author of the song was saying; he, himself, personally wanted to be a partner with God in whatever God is going to do. But, whatever God is going to do in this season will only be done through us! God only rained down meat and bread from Heaven one time! His normal means of feeding us when we’re hungry is to use our neighbor to do it!

The bottom line is that God’s purpose in blessing us is so that we might be a blessing-hose, not a blessing-pool! God’s intent is not for blessings just to flow ‘to’ us; but rather for blessings to flow ‘through’ us! Blessings are meant to be tools to be used, not just items to be consumed! So, if your main goal and pre-occupation is just to be blessed; being blessed is not enough, God wants so much more than that for you! His purpose in blessing you is that you might be (represent) Him wherever you are!

A Thanksgiving Sermon

“Thankful for Not Enough”

“When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.”

John 6:5-11 KJV

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians in 1 Thess. 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Well, it’s really not a problem to obey that command when your provision is adequate and enough. But, the real test of faith comes when you are asked to be thankful for not enough! You’ve worked all week long and get your check on Friday. But, when you look at your bills and then look at your check; you discover you don’t have enough! At the end of the month, you have more month than money, but can you still be thankful for not enough?

Well, it seems that Jesus and the disciples were faced with a similar situation in the text. Jesus and the disciples were attempting to find some time alone, but the when the crowd saw them, they followed them and would not leave them alone. Mark says that when Jesus saw the crowd, he had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he began to teach them many things. However, it was getting late in the evening and the crowd had been with Jesus all day, so the disciples came to him and said: “Send them away so that they might go and get some food, for the day is far spent and the hour is late and we are here in a lonely place” But Jesus told them: “You give them something to eat!” It is at that point that we see the first “not enough” in the story. First of all, because they have been with Jesus all day, there was not enough time for them to go and buy provisions for themselves. For if they had indeed gone away, by the time they got to the market places, the markets would have been closed! Somebody here knows what it means to not have enough time! But you still need to be thankful for not enough!

Mark says “they said,” but John identifies the spokesman as Philip, who said “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One denarius was a day’s wage; therefore, this would have been about eight months’ wages! Now, the text gives no indication how Philip came up with this particular amount. Perhaps it was the amount of money they had in their treasury, but Philip’s point was: “We don’t have enough money to buy enough bread to adequately feed all these people!” In other words, Philip and the rest of the disciples thought that Jesus was asking them to do that which was impossible! That was the second ‘not enough’ not enough money! Oh! I really don’t have to labor that point:  All of us know what it means to have not enough money!

But, while Philip was explaining why it couldn’t be done, Andrew was busy looking for a way it could be done! The Synoptic writers record Jesus as asking them to go and see how many loaves they could find, but only John reveals the source of the provisions. Andrew reports to Jesus: “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?” In other words, “Jesus, we found something; but it’s not enough!” Oh yes! This story is filled with ‘not enough!” There was not enough time for the crowd to go and buy food! There was not enough money for the disciples to buy food to feed the crowd! And the two fish and five barley loaves of bread were not enough food to feed five thousand men, not counting women and children!

Now, when we are faced with ‘not enough’ situations, we must guard our attitudes and dispositions! For, if we are not careful, not enough will cause us to fret and complain! Have you ever met someone who is always complaining about not having enough? What most of these people fail to realize is that part of the reason they don’t have enough is because they are always complaining that they don’t have enough! The Bible says: “A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.” In other words, what we believe and say with conviction on a consistent basis will ultimately find fulfillment in the circumstances of our lives! It’s self-fulfilling prophecy! They never have enough because they believe and consistently speak they will never have enough! If you are one of these people, you need to change your vocabulary and increase your faith! You need to quit speaking about what you don’t have, and start speaking about what you want to have! The Bible says: “Let the weak say: ‘I am strong!” But, the more you grumble and complain; the more you will have to grumble and complain about!

But, Jesus did not complain that the two fish and five barley loaves were not enough! In fact, the Bible says that Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks! That’s the point I really want to drive home today! We’ve got to learn to be thankful, even when we think it’s not enough! You see, sometimes, what we think is not enough, is actually more than enough! What they had was not enough in their hands! But when they placed it in the hands of Jesus; it was more than enough!

I believe the difference was in the thanksgiving! The disciples resented not enough; but Jesus was thankful for not enough! The disciples despised not enough, but Jesus embraced not enough! The disciples saw not enough as a problem, but Jesus saw not enough as an opportunity! You see, often the difference between frustration and fulfillment, between success and failure, between poverty and provision, is in how you respond to your not enough situations! And I don’t care who you are! It doesn’t matter your financial status or social standing; everybody has and everybody will face some not enough situations! But, when you are faced with a not enough situation; what do you do? How do you respond? Do you grumble and complain? Or do you praise and thank God that not enough, is at least, more than nothing!

You see, that’s the key! Life never leaves you with nothing: Life always leaves you with something! But, sometimes the not enough really is enough, it only seems to be not enough because you misunderstand and therefore misappropriate its purpose! Let me show you what I’m talking about! Sometimes, the not enough is not meant to be fruit to be consumed, but rather seed to be planted! The frustration comes about when we eat or consume that which was meant to be planted! The disciples were frustrated by the two fish and five barley loaves of bread because they thought they were not enough for the crowd to consume. Jesus was thankful for the two fish and five barley loaves of bread because he knew he was going to use them as seed to grow a miracle to feed the multitude!

Oh! There are many people who don’t pay their tithes or give offerings unto the Lord because they think, if they do, they will not have enough to pay their bills. They don’t understand, the tithe is a seed! You can’t harvest a crop unless you plant seed! Many of us are suffering today because, instead of planting our seed, we’ve been eating our seed! And when we eat our seed, we never have enough, because the seed is not meant for consumption, the seed is meant for the production of a harvest after it has been planted in the ground!

Yes! Jesus was thankful for not enough! The Bible says Jesus took the loaves and the fish and began to bless and brake them! That’s where the miracle took place; in between the blessing and the breaking! As Jesus blessed and broke, the pieces of bread and fish multiplied. Well, I told you a few minutes ago that it is dangerous to complain, because the more you complain; the more you will have to complain about! Well, the opposite is true also! The more thankful you are; the more you will have to be thankful for! That’s why you ought to live life with an attitude of gratitude!

Well, Jesus took the bread and the fish and blessed and broke the pieces. Then he gave it to the disciples and the disciples gave it to the crowd. As Jesus was thanking, blessing and breaking, the disciples were passing to the multitude and a miracle took place! The bread and the fish began to multiply. Well, I’ll be through in a minute, but I think we ought to notice when the miracle took place! The miracle didn’t take place ‘before’ they needed it; it took place ‘as’ they needed it! Oftentimes, we are tempted to fret and complain about not enough because we don’t see the need being met before the need needs to be met! In other words, we want to wait until we can see something happening before we praise the Lord! But, we’ve got to learn to thank Him in advance! Don’t wait until the battle is over; shout now, for although you can’t see it in the natural; the victory has already been won!

Now, the Bible says: “They all ate and were satisfied!” Before we go, I think we need to know who they all were! We call this; the feeding of the five thousand, but that’s a misnomer. There were quite possibly, well over twenty thousand people who ate and were satisfied, because the five thousand was only the number of men; They didn’t count the women and children!

Well, after they had all eaten and were full, John says that Jesus told the disciples: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” I’ve got two more things to say and then I’m through! Notice they started out with not enough, but they ended up with more than enough! Somebody needs to know today that sometimes the most important thing is not in how you start, but rather in how you finish! If you are dealing with not enough today; don’t despise your not enough! Just be thankful for your not enough and put it in the hands of Jesus! Because, what is not enough in your hands is more than enough in the hands of Jesus!

Yes! Jesus said: “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost!” When the Lord takes your not enough and turns it into more than enough; you need to be careful how you handle the leftovers! Don’t forget to pick up the pieces! Sometimes, we are faced with a not enough situation this time, only because we were not faithful with the leftovers last time! But I’ve learned how to handle the leftovers! Some people think they are too good for the leftovers, but leftovers are a defense against the future not enough! How you handle the leftovers will determine if you will continually face not enough situations.  But if you are faithful with the leftovers, God will always make sure to supply your need, not according to your need, but according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus! Oh! Be not dismayed whatever betide; God will take care of you! Beneath His wings of love abide; God will take care of you! Yes! Through every day, over all the way. He will take care or you! God will take care of you!

Do You Love Me More Than These?

This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

(John 21:14-17 ESV)

If most (not necessarily all) Americans who claim to be Christian, were more devoted to actually practicing Christian principles than defending and practicing their cultural heritage, political ideology, or personal interests, most of the current issues plaguing American society such as racial divisions, politics, police brutality, and even gun violence would not exist.

So, the question for every American, who claims to follow Christ, is the same question Jesus posed to Peter: “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15) Do you love God more than your guns? Do you love the Lord more than your cultural heritage or racial identity? Do you love God more than your political party affiliations or platforms?

If the so-called Christians, really loved God the way they say they do, then that love would supersede racial and ethnic differences and Black and White Christians would stand together to protest and eliminate the systemic police brutality and racial injustice that is so prevalent in America today!

The bottom line is this: Unless the confessing Christian’s faith controls his or her politics instead of that Christian allowing politics to taint and distort their faith; any claim to Christian authenticity is suspect at best, if not just simply a farce in reality! Until practice is consistent with statements of faith, those who don’t believe have no credible tangible evidence that the Christian’s faith is actually real!

Our nation is severely divided along racial lines today because many people have confused real Christianity with politics! A real Christian is not the one who is on the political or social Left or Right! The identity of the real Christian is not determined by political affiliations. The real Christian is the one who follows Christ!

My prayer is that all who claim to love the Lord would actually love Him more than their own personal agendas! Then, and only then, will there be healing in the land!

Have We (the Church) Truly Repented?

Some years ago, I did a word-study of the Greek word that is translated as “repent” in our English Bibles. As I result of this study, I came to a shocking conclusion: Most of us who call ourselves Christians, have NOT truly repented at all! This is mostly in part because of a mis-interpretation which has led to a misunderstanding, and therefore a misapplication the biblical concept of repentance.

Let me show you what I am talking about. When I was first introduced to the concept of repentance as a young Christian, I was taught that to repent means to be ‘godly sorrow for your sins.’ However, I would discover later on, that this definition is based on a faulty interpretation and misunderstanding of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. The apostle wrote: “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (KJV) Here are the same verses in one of the more recent versions; the ESV: “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Now, here’s the thing that most people have missed about what Paul said. Paul DID NOT SAY godly sorrow or godly grief ‘was’ repentance. He said godly sorrow or godly grief ‘works’ or ‘produces’ repentance! Godly sorrow/grief and repentance are two different concepts; they are not synonymous! They are not the same!

So, to feel sorry for your sins is not the same as repenting, it’s just feeling sorry for your sins! But, feeling sorry for your sins ought to produce repentance! Feeling sorry for your sins ought to lead you to the act of repenting. So, that brings us to the question: If being godly sorrow for your sins is not the same as repentance, then, what does it actually mean to repent? Well, the Greek word that is translated as ‘repent’ has as its primary meaning; to change one’s mind or the way one thinks. Therefore, to repent is to change your mind or to change your thought process; repentance is a change of mind! True repentance is a change in ‘what’ and ‘how’ one thinks! This change of mind will invariably lead to a change in action, behavior and life.

Jesus’ first recorded public declaration is found in Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV) The Jewish people at that time were anxiously waiting for and anticipating the coming of the Kingdom of God (the rule, reign, and authority of God among his people on earth). What Jesus was essentially saying was this: “Quit thinking about the Kingdom of God in the future-tense and understand and live in view of the fact that the Kingdom of God has now arrived!” The message of Jesus for us today is for us to quit thinking of the Kingdom of God only as a place called Heaven in the future and start thinking of the Kingdom of God as a present reality!

Therefore, in view of what Jesus said, even most people who call themselves Christians still need to repent! Why? Because most Christians think of the Kingdom of God only as a place called Heaven, in the sweet by and by! But the message of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is also a present reality on earth in the sour here and now! The message is: Repent! Quit thinking religion and start thinking Kingdom! We’ve got our hearts set on ‘going to Heaven,’ but Jesus told us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come!” We’re want to leave here and go there, but Jesus wants us to stay here, working and praying that the ‘there’ will come here! He prayed to his Father in the garden on the eve of his passion, concerning his disciples and us: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (Jn. 17:15 NIV) We need to repent, because we’ve been praying to the Father to get us out, while Jesus prayed to the Father to keep us in! We need to repent! We need to change our minds; we need to change our thought process! We’ve been thinking religion; but Jesus wasn’t about religion, Jesus was about the Kingdom! Jesus never told us to seek first religion; he told us to seek first the Kingdom! Religion is always about the past and the future ‘over there,’ but the Kingdom is primarily about in the present here! Religion allows evil to win in the present because of a faith in a future victory, but the Kingdom defeats the power of the enemy in the present and will ultimately destroy the enemy in the future! That’s why the enemy doesn’t mind us ‘having religion,’ because religion blinds us to the present reality of the Kingdom! The message to the church today is the same as the message Jesus proclaimed centuries ago: “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” The Kingdom of God is not just pie-in-the-shy-when-you-die-by-and-by; the Kingdom is the present power and reality of God in the world right now! The Kingdom of God is not just later; the Kingdom of God is NOW AND LATER!