When Jesus announced, "The kingdom of God is near," he invited a response, saying "Repent." The word repent has ominous undertones in the cultural venacular of Americana. For me, it conjures memories of barn roofs near highways in the rural South, often painted in blazing red with the word "REPENT!" in angry capital letters. The word literally means "rethink your thinking" or "reimagine" your life in view of new alternatives. The instruction to "repent" or "reimagine" is meant to shock and arrest, to incite us to rethink our goals and priorities, to call into question our previous ways and awaken us to new possibilities. We reimagine our lives by allowing the Creator to examine our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and behavior. We see an ancient example of this in a song attributed to David, King of Israel:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
It takes courage and vulnerability to ask, "How am I out of rhythm with the way of love?" We are told to repent or reimagine our lives because there is a better way, as the Apostle paul suggested: "God's kindness leads you towards repentance" (Romans 2:4). Allowing the Maker to gently examine your character is an entrance into the kingdom dance.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17