I would like to share a couple of thoughts on repentance today. Lest you think it’s aimed at someone other than you and I, a good starting point is probably…
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
It is comforting to know that only One has walked this earth in mortality and been without sin, our elder brother Jesus Christ. That means the rest of us are alike in our shortcomings.
So accepting we are all fallen we need to rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ….
And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith. Moroni 6:4
What do we need to do. Well all The Saviour asks, is that we repent and turn to Him.
In the New Testament the word repentance is used often and we think of it as feeling remorse, regret or shame for our sins. But in the original Greek, the word translated to repentance is metanoia, which implies making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction, or Change.
How different that translation makes us see our condition. As a parent do you want your children to feel down and shamed by their mistakes, or convicted and positive about the potential to change. How much more then does our Heavenly Father want us to be actively engaged in changing for the better, rather than moving from him, burdened by our guilt.
So how do we repent or change?
In its simplist form, each day we strive to change, we pray and ask God to forgive us for our mistakes, but also commit to change our behaviour. Then as we arrive at church on Sunday, we partake of the Sacrament and renew our covenant to follow Jesus Christ. This resets our relationship with God.
On occasions we need help from a priesthood leader to guide us in this process. The Bishop can give council and offer ways to help us realign our life. This would usually only be the case, if we need help with bringing our life in line with one of the commandments we discuss in a temple recommend.
On very rare occasions, the path we find ourselves on, requires a complete new start and a loving Heavenly Father has even put in place a way for individuals to take time out, to change and then be re-baptised. Assisted by the Bishop or Stake President, It is not an easy process, but is always one filled with love, from those assigned to help.
There is a misconception that Latter-day Saints believe they can work their way to Heaven, thus not being accepting of Grace. This could not be further from the truth. The only way we can overcome this life, is through accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ. All He asks in return is that we change our ways so we will be comfortable in God’s presence when we do return .
Elder Holland has some great thoughts on the times we are struggling to change our ways…
Brothers and sisters, every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human. May we refuse to let our own mortal follies, and the inevitable shortcomings of even the best men and women around us, make us cynical about the truths of the gospel, the truthfulness of the Church, our hope for our future, or the possibility of godliness. Be Ye Therefore Perfect
Wherever you are on your journey back to God, you are welcome in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Know you will be surrounded by imperfect people in the pews on Sunday, but we are all trying to improve and change for the better, it’s easier together.