The Image of God and Repentance

If you’ve been with us on this journey of exploration from the beginning, then you will recall that I mentioned that I thought our having been created in God’s image might well have implications that run throughout our Christian experience, and I think it is safe to say at this point in the process, that yes, it not only has implications, but even ramifications throughout our Christian experience. This has more or less flooded my mind with ideas, thoughts, possibilities…

The result of that has been that in the last several posts, I’ve just been sharing thoughts that I’ve had; ideas, musings…

One of the things that came to me relates to repentance. As a teacher, I should say up front that repentance means to turn away from something; to repent of sins is to turn away from sins or a sin. Here endeth the academic portion…

A lot of people I know, or have counseled, approach the subject of repentance as a burden, a holy obligation, even a great sacrifice. That hasn’t ever been my reaction to it, but I haven’t had quite the right attitude about it either, for to me, way back in the recesses of my brain, repentance always seemed to loom as this dark force that forced me to admit that I was wrong about something. I’ve never had any problem admitting, either to myself or to others, that I am wrong my fair share of the time, that I don’t know the answer to every question, or that I have been wrong about things in the past. Yet like most people, I really don’t like to admit when a specific action or behavior of mine was/is wrong. The non-specific is one thing; the specific is more difficult because pride steps into the picture.

Now, I think about bearing the image of God…

No, that does not make me think of my various sins and transgressions and feel guilt or shame; quite the opposite actually. To be a bearer of the very image of God, to be part of His Kingdom and part of His eternal purpose, to be part of His expression of Himself is so awe inspiring, so empowering, so limitless, so… Wonderful!

Guilt, shame, hurt, pride, obligation, sacrifice… this stuff is baggage that holds us back, an obstacle to relationship with God and being all that He intended us to be… these things are just (to use the technical term) crap!

To repent is to turn away from all of that… stuff, garbage, baggage, grief and crap. To repent is not an occasion for mourning, long faces and “woe is me”, it is an occasion for great joy!

You see, “sin” is worse than merely being a rule violation; it impedes our progress as image bearers.

Any thoughts?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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18 Responses to The Image of God and Repentance

  1. Tom says:

    I agree with you. There should be remorse for doing the sin and then a turning away from that sin. At that point we are to move forward in the joy God has given us because He has forgiven us of our sins. We can rejoice in His great love, mercy and grace. We MUST NEVER stay in that guilt or remorse. In Christ there is no condemnation. Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. Yes, Don! If we continually wear sackcloth and ashes, the light of Jesus can never shine through.

  3. pipermac5 says:

    One of the problems I see with most discussion of repentance is that they are directed towards our classical-definitions of “sin”, which, while Biblically-accurate, always point us to the Law and our failings, rather than pointing us to Christ. The Law was never meant to be a be-all and end-all of everything, but rather to be our school-master to point us to Christ.

    Our repentance should be turning towards Christ and what He has done for us, and in His strength, seeking to become more like Him, and in so doing, becoming more truly-human as He was. Jesus didn’t become human simply to die on our behalf, rather He took on our humanity to also show us what true-humanity is and looks like, as He created us originally. The more like Him we become, the more we will show God’s image to those around us.

  4. dwmartens says:

    Philippians chapter 3 speaks clearly of this, especially verses 1-14, which begin with “…*rejoice* in the Lord!” and end with pressing on to the *prize* to which we are called heavenward in Christ Jesus. Also, Jesus, prays on the night before he went to the cross in John 17 “that they may have the full measure of my *joy* within them.” Multiple other references say similarly. In Christ there is little place for long-faces!

  5. paulfg says:

    A musing in the same vein. If we look for sin we will find sin. If we look for love we will find love. If we focus on not sinning we are looking for sin. If we focus on not doing something we will find burden and sacrifice. If we look for burden and sacrifice we will find the sin of … something.

    In the same theme of image of God … is this what we imagine God spends eternity doing? And if the (obvious) answer is “no” – why do we seem to?

  6. Matt Brumage says:

    Just a late comment, the less well known word used for repentance is “a change of mind”. Repentance also includes agreeing with God (changing our mind to agree with His) about our sin, our condition (which is positive, as you and the comments make clear), and our standing before our Maker (another positive position). So, repentance IS a joyous activity, or is when understood and done right.

  7. Thanks for the post, Don! I always LOVE your stuff! I believe, like you, that repentance should be a joyful thing! After all, we are cleansing our souls of guilt and condemnation before a Holy God! Like Paul, I believe that it should be a daily or , for me, even hourly or minute by minute thing. It’s SO IMPORTANT to repent regularly so that we don’t block our communication with God by unrighteousness. Thanks again for sharing and I look forward to more! May Our God truly bless you!!
    In Him, Nikki

  8. bcaudle77 says:

    I feel this way a lot of times, but finding out more recently with getting close and close to God, these hurdles are getting easier and easier to deal with, and in return having a great time with God.

    its like a win, win.

    1. Repent easier
    2. Closer to God
    3. Filled with joy

    It’s like telling a 4 year old to color the sun yellow and when he does it , it looks good and was so easy, but when he colors the sun black, it looks so bad. Just throw the paper away and start over, yellow this time.

    Strange thought…….lol

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