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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Saturday, November 6

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
—Romans 12:2


I've never liked the word "repent." For me, it conjures up images of judgment, condemnation, and fear. Jesus often says in the gospels, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." For years it was troubling to me that Jesus so often used this word since it smacked of everything that repelled me about religion. But then the Spirit began to open my eyes to its true meaning and place in my journey with God.

First I realized that Jesus could not have been using the word while pointing a finger of condemnation. Jesus said in John 3:17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." I discovered the word "repent" (metanoia) actually means a change of mind or having a new mind. The word suggests a radical revision and transformation of our whole mental process. That “change of mind” allows God to take center place in our consciousness, in our awareness, and in our minds.

You’re getting it if you can imagine Jesus walking into a crowd of hurting, rejected, empty, lonely, fearful, wounded, hopeless people and saying, "God's kingdom is now within your reach! But you'll have to undergo a change of heart and mind to grasp it." Metanoia literally means "beyond the mind." So it's an idea of stretching or pushing beyond the boundaries with which we normally think and feel. For me, it has often involved pressing beyond my religious conditioning.

A few ways Christ is calling me to "repentance" goes something like this:

God's kingdom is now within your reach, Jim! But grasping it will pull you beyond the boundaries of what you normally think and feel about yourself, God, and life. It will even call into question certain religious notions you have learned. Don’t be timid, Jim. You have the Spirit within to guide you into all truth. Pay more attention to the ways of a child and you'll get it. You are a son of God. I was resurrected from the dead within you. When it all works right, you won't even know where "you" end and "I" begin. You tend to think of your separateness from God, I want you to feel and experience oneness with God. Trust me, Jim. You're just scratching the surface. There's more available than you think.

God, I plan on walking in the present reality of your kingdom today. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.