Last Thursday I attended an event in Orangeburg (my hometown) that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Orangeburg Massacre, the night when State Troopers opened fire on a crowd of student civil rights demonstrators, injuring at least 27 and killing 3.
One of the speakers, recalling the official apologies that have been made through the years, suggested maybe it was time to move from apologies to repentance. I’ve been thinking about the difference ever since.
When we confess our sin- on a Sunday morning or other times in private- are we apologizing or repenting? Tomorrow when we gather for Ash Wednesday worship, are we apologizing or repenting? When it comes to the ways we have fallen short of God’s will for our lives, is “sorry” enough?
Repentance cuts deeper than an apology. It carries with it the notion of a change of heart, a turning around, or a new beginning. It is what David is talking about in Psalm 51 when he prays, “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (v10) It is what Jesus is talking about when he tells the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) It is what Paul is talking about when he says “Therefore if anyone is on Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Repentance means leaving something behind. During this season of Lent, is the Lord calling you to move from apologies to repentance? What is he calling you to leave behind?