I PAINTED THIS OIL of a sunrise over Long Lake near Aitkin, Minnesota, a few years back. At the time, our son had a cabin on the lake. It was a delight to come out on the deck early in the morning and greet a new sunrise. Each one promised the beginning of a new day with new opportunities. I loved the color and composition through this tall evergreen.
I chose this painting for today’s Thought—Repentance—because true Repentance is opportunity for an exciting new outcome!
LAST WEEK I DEFINED the key Thought for the week—Confession—as an Acknowledgement. In other words, ‘owning up to’ having broken a contract, a law or a promise. I said, “I wanted to look at Confession in three parts: Pre-Confession, Confession and Post-Confession.
Today’s word is often associated with Confession—Repentance. What does it mean to repent? Definitions include words like “apologize, be sorry, ask forgiveness”. These are good, if they truly express our Repentance. Even when sincere, they leave out what I feel is the key, often ignored, ingredient. True Repentance is to ‘change thinking’. It’s often a 180-degree change with intention that the change prevail as the ‘new norm’.
I WAS SHOCKED BY a recent TV newscast. As I understood the report: Minnesota ranks #50 (bottom of the list), as states rank, in how well they do in eliminating systemic racial injustice. I may have been shocked because I am a white male who has lived in a Twin Cities suburb since moving to Minnesota in 1983. Even if the ranking is off several points, we have failed. I did not realize that fact. That information was one circumstance that led me to our Thought for last week: Confession and, this week, Repentance. Let me illustrate: Here is how I break down this experience to my thoughts on ‘Confession in three parts’:
Observation: [What is your environment telling you–visual and auditory?] Minnesota has failed in eradicating systemic racial injustice.
Moderation: [Slow down, take time to ‘see & listen’ with understanding.] I had to ‘see & listen’ to firsthand reports that support this Observation: Both as to what is happening and why.
Consideration: [Check the map. Where were you headed? What destination?] I believe the goal for every citizen in this nation is ‘equal justice for all’.
Confession: [Acknowledge—agree to—the error and ask for help]: Based on the evidence, there is no way to escape existing inequality. It truly exists. I also hear ideas being touted as the guide to ‘help’ attain the goal of equal justice for all.
Expectation: [Trust the validity of your guide’s advice.] While I agree there is a systemic racial injustice problem in Minnesota that must be corrected, I can’t trust that some of the ideas to ‘help’ are either attainable as proposed, or sustainable.
Recalibration: [Change your modius operandi—habits of working.] I believe there is now a growing grass root repentance in many communities to become increasingly aware of the need, and to actually listen and work for solutions that are both attainable and sustainable.
Celebration: [Reaching your destination, having learned lessons.] I celebrate the focus this past few months has directed to a need that many busy white citizens, like me, simply did not realize existed. That lack of awareness is changing
WHILE I AGREE that skin color is involved, I do not believe skin color is at the root of the challenge to the systemic racial injustice we must overcome. In my opinion, our systemic injustice is more due to mutual ignorance of social/cultural distinctives. We do not understand each other. We do not listen to one another ‘heart to heart’. We do not learn from one another the many valuable lessons each culture has to offer others. Too often, we think only in terms of “them” and “us” instead of “we, (all) the people.”
I BELIEVE JESUS has given His followers the model that can eliminate systemic racial injustice. It begins with God’s love: first, for one another, regardless of our ethnicity or culture, and together reaches out with that same love to everyone.
Here I want to take a little ‘license’ in looking at the Apostle Paul’s defense before Agrippa:
“First to those in Damascus [Minneapolis], then to those in Jerusalem [St. Paul] and in all Judea [Minnesota], and to the Gentiles [non-believers] also, I preached that they should repent [change their thinking] and turn to God and prove their repentance [changed thinking] by their deeds. [future actions of love!]” —Acts 26:20
“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved.”