Last Saturday I reblogged See, there’s this thing call biology’s informed post, Metanoia. I wanted to take it a step further because I thought her words so important to our Christian walk.
As we are about to celebrate the birth of our Savior, what do we choose to celebrate? Do we celebrate our own salvation? Do we celebrate our position over others who are not saved? Or do we celebrate the gift our Father bestowed upon the entire world?
Penance is the confession of a sin, followed by an act that shows you feel sorry for a sin, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.
Repentance means to feel remorse or regret for your sins. It often is expressly coupled with a premeditated necessity to change one’s ways before receiving grace and forgiveness from Christ.
When we apply either of these words to the gospel, it means you cannot come to Christ exactly as you are. It means you must do something first, or prepare to meet Him. The danger of this doctrine is that it ends up denying the free grace, love and forgiveness Christ was sent here to offer in God’s name.
Just as the word shalom in Hebrew means so much more than hello or peace, metanoia means more than repent.
In ancient Greek translations of the Bible, the words in Aramaic/Hebrew were either teshshuva (H7725) or nacham (H5162), translated into Greek as either metanoia/metanoeo (G3341/40) or strepho (G4762)*
Metanoia is a Greek word meaning to think differently, to reform or change one’s mind, and can be defined as “a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion.” It is not the restrictive word for repentance/penance; it is so much more than that. It is a radical mindshift into the Gospel of grace.
For example, the word paranoia, which means literally being beside the mind or as we would say, “out of your mind,” is the opposite of metanoia, which taken in the context of the New Testament would mean to be transformed by God to get in your right mind.
A change ultimately begins with a change of heart, a change of mind. To sigh as a way of expressing regret, yet having a comfort over something lost (nacham) and a turning in response to God’s call (tehshuva).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Look how Jesus raised the importance of the mind when he added it to The Sh’ma (Listen!), the first word of the cornerstone prayer of Jewish faith (Listen, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One…, (Deuteronomy 6:4-9):
Deuteronomy 6:5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Mark 12:30 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”
It all comes down to a choice. Will we or won’t we allow God to transform us? Will we choose to neglect God’s voice? Will we choose to use a hammer of sin on our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and our enemies? Or will we choose to accept and offer the free gift of unconditional love and extravagant grace He so unreservedly bestows unto us?
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. Because of the grace allotted to me, I can respectfully tell you not to think of yourselves as being more important than you are; devote your minds to sound judgment since God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith. We each have our own role to play in the body of Christ. (Romans 12:1-4)
*The numbers next to the Aramaic/Hebrew and Greek words are their place in Strong’s Bible Concordance.