But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. - Luke 15:20b
From Jack Miller’s book, Saving Grace, entry June 13th.
Before we consider what repentance is, think about what it isn’t. Repentance does not pay for sin. It’s not about being plagued with guilt. True repentance does not lead to a deeper mire. It doesn’t refuse to give up what’s been repented of. Repentance is not a legal thing or an emotional thing.
So, what is repentance?
According to the parable of the prodigal son, there are two aspects of repentance: the first is waking up, coming to one’s senses, and regaining sanity. It is insanity to live for this world as if it were eternal when it’s not. The parable of the prodigal is a parable about the Father’s riches of love. You can’t live as though God’s world or anything in it is your; it all belongs to him. In fact, the best and only real thing to own is the Father himself.
The second aspect of repentance begins with being truly sorry for your sin and recognizing that your sin is ultimately against God. In this change of heart, you confess the whole truth about your sin and unworthiness. The only way you can do this is if you have a Father who loves you like the father in the parable loved his son. Repentance cannot be separated from the amazing love of a holy God.