An Invitation to Repent

Forgiveness and Repentance. These are both central facets of the Christian faith. And yet we often rely more heavily on the assurance of our forgiveness without putting in the work of true repentance. Receiving forgiveness feels good, but repentance can be costly and uncomfortable. It requires that we recognize and take responsibility for the ways that we have gotten it wrong and make the necessary changes to do better.

Right now, as we see people rising up all over our country to call out the injustices that have always been present, we must come face to face with the brokenness that is prevalent in our systems and within ourselves. If we follow a Savior who came to bring good news to the poor, release the prisoners, heal the blind, and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18-19), we must reckon with the ways that we have both actively and complicitly worked in opposition to that cause.

We must fight our instincts to become defensive and instead sit in the discomfort of confession and repentance. We cannot let our pride, fear, or worry of what it will cost us stand in the way of admitting our own culpability, our own brokenness, our own mistakes. We cannot allow our own self-interest to sit on the throne while the effects of injustice lie at our feet.

Last week, I had the opportunity to join with a multi-ethnic group from various church communities around our city. It was a beautiful expression of the church confessing, lamenting, and repenting as we called out the sin of racism and white supremacy and reflected on the ways that we have seen those at play in our own lives. I was humbled by the invitation to share a prayer of repentance with the group gathered there. I spoke as a White Christian, understanding that there are many ways that I have both supported and benefitted from the broken systems and unjust ideologies that have been upheld at the expense of others.

I want to share this prayer of communal repentance with you as well. As you read through it, I invite you to sit with God and allow him to point out the areas in your life where he desires your repentance.

God, you said that all women and men were created in your image…

but we admit that we have denied the dignity of those who don’t look like us, speak like us, or believe like us.

God, you said that your desire was to bless the nations through your people…

but we admit that we have sought to protect and uplift our own nation and our own groups at the expense of others.

Jesus, you said to love our neighbors as ourselves…

but we admit that we have failed to see our neighbors as those who live around the world, across town, and even those who live on the other side of the divides we have constructed.

Jesus, you told us to go into the world to make disciples…

but we admit that instead of leading people to live and love as you did, we tried to make people more like us, and we used that as a license to conquer and destroy.

Jesus, you said to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us…

but we admit that we have fought back with the weapons of the world to bring destruction to those who stand in the way of what we want, and we have made more enemies in the process.

God, lead us to true repentance, in which we not only acknowledge the sins of the past but also learn from our mistakes and then go on to do better. As the church, we have at times pushed forward the agenda of nationalism and allegiance to our own groups. Let us now push forward an agenda of love. Help us to partner with you in bringing peace, justice, and restoration to our hurting world.

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