Repentance in Our Culture

Photo by  Priscilla Du Preez  on  Unsplash

Five years ago, I set out to write a book about repentance. At the time, it was a term I occasionally heard in the Church, and perhaps every once-in-awhile in American culture. It was a tough topic, and I studied for over a year before writing a proposal. I wanted to really get it and see it changing my own life before I attempted to persuade others of its importance. The process was long—much longer than I anticipated—and I questioned if it even needed to be written.

What I couldn’t have predicted is how much we would see the terms “repentance,” “forgiveness,” “apology,” and “confession” in 2018. Even this week, I’m reading them everywhere. These are biblical terms being used by the larger culture because we long for the right way to deal with sin and its effects, even if we wouldn’t use that term.

It’s clear from the past few years that, even in the Church, we struggle to call sin “sin,” and to call people to repentance. We make excuses for those on our side while hurling accusations at the other side. We judge those who are accused of heinous acts when we disagree with them theologically or politically, but we’re quick to defend those with whom we agree when they’re accused of the same acts.

I know one little book can’t do much, but I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s coming out right now. Repentance and confession are God’s idea, and they’re the path to true joy for His people. Real is about relationships and being known, but at a deeper level, it’s about repentance and the need to fight sin in community.

Will you pray with me that God would draw people to true repentance, and thereby to true joy, whether through this book or other means?

When David wrote Psalm 51 after his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba, he confessed, repented, then wrote this:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will return to you.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

These are the public words of a man who has been caught in private sin. He brought the deeds he did in the dark into the light, pleaded with God for forgiveness, then used that forgiveness as a means to teach others of God’s mercy and love.

This is my prayer for this book—that God would use it to free us up to bring our sin into the light, repent of it, and then share the joy and freedom of forgiveness with others. Because we’re eating each other alive out there, and our only hope is the grace of God.

Thank you to so many who have pre-ordered the book and helped get the word out about it. I don’t know how God wants to use it, but I’m thankful for how He’s already changed me through the process of writing it.

You can find Real: The Surprising Secret to Deeper Relationships where Christian books are sold. It releases October 1.