The Message of Repentance for Missional Living


The Bible study I attend is going through a short guide called “Missional Essentials.” Written by Brad Brisco and Lance Ford, it is comprised of 12 sessions or chapters aimed at helping the contemporary Christian learn more about what it means to be missional wherever you are at in life (i.e. you do not have to be a missionary in a foreign country to benefit from this book). Our group has already read, reflected upon, and discussed the first three chapters about: 1) how we worship a “missionary God”; 2) the nature of “incarnational ministry”—that is, being intentionally present in unbelievers’ lives; and 3) how to join God’s missional purposes as the church. Chapter four is titled “Turning His Way: Living a Kingdom of God Agenda.”

In this chapter, I was challenged to reconsider a couple of verses that I have read innumerable times, but have not sufficiently thought about in terms of what it means to be missional. The authors rightly point out that John the Baptist and Jesus both “chose the word repent as the first commandment regarding the arrival of the kingdom of God. Both men issued a stark warning to the entire region of Galilee that its citizens were going in the wrong direction and that they needed to turn around immediately” (32). Here are a few thoughts and open questions about this strategy with regard to missional living, particularly as it applies to the message of repentance:

  • John and Jesus’ warning is a blunt one. They might as well have shouted, “There is something wrong with you! Yes, you! Turn away from what you are doing!” Not exactly a charm offensive from a couple of guys you’re hearing from for the first time. How might this strategy change the way that we share the gospel with unbelievers today?
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 states: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” If being made alive in Christ is an act of God, so is repentance. How does this change our notions of what is happening spiritually when we share Christ with someone?
  • Repentance is a sovereign act of God, but that does not mean that we can cease to be missional: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) and “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). So, it is incumbent upon us as Christians to share the word of Christ with others. We cannot just be “nice” Christians and hope that our neighbors will come to Christ. They must hear the word. How might this change the degree to which we share Christ with others?
  • In my experience, the command to “repent” is one of the most difficult truths to express to someone who is not a Christian. Unfortunately, we live in a world were most people believe that they are “a good person.” Sure, most people believe that they have done a few wrong things over the course of their life, but none of them think that they need God to forgive them, let alone believe that they will suffer eternally for those sins if they die without Christ. What is the best way to be missional with someone when questions of goodness arise?

Feel free to contact me if you have any insight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s