Years ago, I had a twenty-five-mile commute to work. Trouble was, most days the drive would take me upwards of an hour and a half—and that was just one way. Each morning and evening, I would try to kill the time with podcasts or audiobooks, so that as I drove—or crept along, bumper to bumper—I could learn something.
In the book of Romans, Paul writes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). We’re sometimes taught that Paul’s admonition is about learning more, the way I tried as I listened to podcasts in traffic. But that’s not really it. Instead, Paul is talking about making a deliberate choice to allow God to shape our thoughts and decisions.
To avoid becoming so acclimated to the world around that we lose sight of what really matters, we must continually renew our minds, or in other words, we must change our way of thinking. The Greek word metanoia, translated to convey “repentance” in our English Bibles, has, as its most basic meaning, “to change one’s mind.” What Paul is saying, then, is that for a believer, repentance isn’t a one-time event that takes place only when he or she comes to Christ. Rather, the Christian life is one of continual repentance.
In everything that comes our way, we have a choice to make: Will we see the situation the way our natural eyes perceive it or the way God sees it, which is the way it truly is? And that includes every frustration in life—even horrendous traffic.
“Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you.”