I did it.
Yesterday I went to the Comcast studio to be met by the gracious Maria Goldstein to be interviewed for her program, Voices in the Wilderness.
Aired on the Public Access channel in Chicagoland (Chicago 26, IIRC), Maria has a simple 30 minute interview with her guests, asking how Jesus Christ changed their life and called them to repentance.
Repentance is a very dangerous word in America. I know. I refused to do it for years.
But the fact is repentance is necessary to be real. To be honest with God about your rejection of Him. Its an old word, and it is the right word.
Repentance without faith leads to legalism. Belief without repentance leads to liberalism.
I recounted my Christian upbringing and my efforts to "be good", my college scholarships and my candidacy for Mensa. Baptised at 13, I did not surrender and admit I was wrong until I was 31 - after a divorce, $25,000 of unsecured debt (that's credit cards, student loans, etc.), and being fired from a job for lying about a package I was to send. Unemployed, I decided to go back to church.
After a few weeks I had a meeting with the senior pastor who lovingly and kindly explained that all my righteous deeds were like 'filthy rags'. I couldn't fix myself by going to church. I needed Christ.
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
Days later, I told my then-girlfriend we weren't going to sleep together anymore. She got up and slammed the door behind her as she left.
Repentance is NOT a popular action, I found out.
Furious, I told God off. Yelling at the top of my lungs.
Then He answered me and showed me my sins. Ten years of disobedience was downloaded into my brain in 2.5 seconds.
I fell on my knees and asked Him to forgive me. Immediately it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I went from stark terror to bliss in a moment. Awestruck, I said, "That's what those Baptists mean by being 'born again'!"
Everyone noticed the change. Blew them away. Even my ex-wife.
I have stumbled, fallen and gotten back up several times since then, but the elements are the same for all true Believers in Christ. It is a timeless truth.
I understand the apostle Paul and Job and Peter and Moses and anyone who was royally screwed up and hurting and angry and bitter and THEN met the Living God.
Repentance is an old word. It is the right word. You see, I had to admit I was wrong - before God and now, before the World.
Oh sure, its Public Access - like 6 people will watch it. But they will know. And I'll be sure its up on YouTube - and then the HOWLS will begin.
You see, we think GOD should apologize for not having the world the way we want it.
I'm afraid not.
God made it perfect and then we demanded control.
Perfectionism, demanding our 'rights' and smoldering anger at 'them folks', should alert even the dullest fool that they imagine themselves as Lord Judge Omnipotent.
I thought I was. I'm not. But even better, I don't have to save you, either. That's Jesus' job.
Your job is to repent and believe. His job is to save you the moment you admit you are wrong and need Him.
Its the easiest religion in the world. And the hardest. Because it is not based on you and your goodness but on God and His grace.
And the only thing that damns us is our pride.