The very first of Luther’s 95 theses was “our Lord and Master Jesus Christ . . . willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Not exactly a line that’s going to attract lots of customers! He seems to be saying that Christians aren’t doing so well in living a Godly life. But that wasn’t his point at all. Rather, he was saying that repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed repentance is the gateway to everything that the Christian life is all about. It’s the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.
Jesus alluded to the two different types of repentance in Luke 13:1-9. One kind is that which is necessary to keep God happy so he will keep us away from calamity and answer our prayers. This type of repentance is selfish, self-righteous and eventually leads to bitterness. It is as barren as the fig tree that bore no fruit. True repentance, Jesus tells us, is that which is intended to tap into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart. We repent when bad things happen and we repent when we’re a little too full of ourselves when times are good too. Take all things with repentance — and feel your relationship with Christ blossom.