This week, in my theology class, we studied conversion. We discussed the essential elements of conversion, repentance and faith. The principle of repentance is everywhere in Scripture. The idea that we must turn from our sin and turn to God shows that active repentance is not just one direction. We turn away from something toward something. When Jesus came with his call of "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 4:17), he meant to turn away from sin and turn to God. Without repentance there is no conversion.
What does it look like for someone to turn toward a life in Christ as opposed to living a life apart from him? At times, I wonder if I live like I've repented. I have been wondering about the reality of a daily repenting. We sin daily, should we not repent daily? Yes, we have full forgiveness in Christ, but how often do we presume upon that forgiveness? How easy it to let little things creep in? Apathy, bitterness, selfishness, the fascination with the world.
In conjunction with this week's study, we also looked at union with Christ. Our union comes through the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual vitality comes from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is present with us through the Spirit. Do I reflect that? I often wonder if I don't look a lot like everyone else out there. And I don't mean to suggest that I am somehow special, but I do think that being a Christian should mean I do not follow the ways of the world. I think that is getting harder and harder to achieve. Attempts to live distinctly from the world are often difficult to put into practice, because it can become legalism quite quickly. We may feel apprehensive to make choices that distinguish from the world, because inevitably someone will accuse us of legalism. We may even use the fear of legalism as an excuse to do something that is ultimately questionable.
Every now and then, the blurry line between the world and the church discourages me. And I wonder how I contribute to that. How do I communicate that I have repented of this world and turned toward God? And we must turn from the world. As entertaining and enticing as it can be, it is not the place for us. If we are one with Christ, we ought to feel alien to it. That is a hard thing to understand and make sense of. But I think it's a worthwhile matter to consider. And I think part of it is a daily decision to place our allegiance to the kingdom of God and not the world.