I give you a new commandment: love (agapate) one another; as I have loved you, so you are to love one another. If there is this love among you, then all will know that you are my disciples. John 13: 34-35, NEB This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this, that a man should lay down his life for you his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I call you servants no longer; a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends, because I have disclosed to you everything that I heard from my Father. You did not choose me: I choose you. I appointed you to go on and bear fruit, fruit that shall last; so that the Father may give you all that you ask in my name. This is my commandment to you: love one another. John 15: 12-17, NEB
Spiritual Disciplines of Love
Repent: metanoeite – to change one’s mind or purpose
John the Baptist - Matthew 3: 1-3 Jesus – Matthew 4: 16-17 Prodigal – Luke 15: 11-32
Forgive: aphÄ“sei – I send away, let go, release, permit to depart
Simple Choice – Matthew 6: 8-15 Refusing to Forgive – Matthew 18: 21-35 Love’s Barrier Banished Fear and Anxiety Freedom from Fear – Luke 1: 67-80 Fear Banished – 1 John 4: 16b-19 Fruitful New Nature – Romans 8: 12-17; 2 Timothy 1: 7 For Women and Men – Genesis 3: 16-19
Within the act of repenting is a recognition that we have wronged another or that a position we hold is not accurate or not the better of two views or states of being. John the Baptist and Jesus declare the need to repent for both having wronged another (God and man) and living under a world view that is radically at odds with God’s view of the world. Thus, God has not just sent laws and rules for us to live by, but has himself entered our world in his Son Who gives a new commandment. God is establishing a new world order.
Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in his work Jesus of Nazareth states that the call to repentance is a call of recognition that a new Kingdom and King has come into history. The call “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” is a call to “change our mind and purpose” and turn from a limited view and experience of God and the world to a much more personal and expansive one in relationship with Him.
When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he is quite simply proclaiming God, and proclaiming him to be the living God, who is able to act concretely in the world and in history and is even now so acting. He is telling us: “God exists” and God is really God,”… [Who] is acting now—this is the hour when God is showing himself in history as its Lord, as the living God, in a way that goes beyond anything seen before. “Kingdom of God” is therefore an inadequate translation. It would be better to speak of God’s being-Lord, of his lordship (pp. 55-56).
In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson looks at the call of repentance from the stance of saying “no…to the world’s lies and yes to God’s truth” (p.29). Peterson sees repentance as personal and practical, stating that
Repentance in not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace (pp. 29-30).
Question: From your own experience, when are you best able to say “no…to the world’s lies and yes to God’s truth”? When you have answered this question, briefly share your insight with your neighbor.
Luke 15: 11-32 With which character do you most identify? How so?
What conditions lead the younger son to change his mind and purpose?
What does the younger son do that shows he has “truly” repented, changed his mind and purpose?
What is the older son’s purpose? From his language in the text, what keeps him from repenting?
When was the last time you deeply received love and grace from another when you desperately needed it? What did it do for you?
What has been your own experience in repenting or accepting repentance from another person? From God?
Talk over a couple of your responses with a partner.