Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
The verb μετανοέω (metanoeō) is composed of two parts: the prepositional prefix meta (with, after) and the verb noeō (to perceive, think). It thus underscores the way that “changing one’s mind” is an act of “rethinking” or “thinking again.” Socrates, in Plato’s dialogue Euthydemus (279c), remarks that he has “changed his mind (metanoeō) once more (au) again (palin),” piling up adverbs that further stress an ongoing process of reconsideration, rethinking, and reassessing.
“When were you saved, Pastor?” I have known Christians who have the specific date of when they were saved: a moment when they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus into their hearts. I suppose I could say that I was saved early in January of 1987 when my family had me baptized, or I could say I was saved last night when I took a long hard look at my growing list of resentments and hurts and asked God to forgive my selfish self and remind me how to love (again).
John calls repeatedly for the churches to repent, μετανοέω: to change their hearts and reorient their lives toward Jesus. But let’s remember, this isn’t the first time the members of these churches experienced a change of heart. When they first heard the gospel and accepted Jesus as Lord, their hearts were changed and they experienced repentance and salvation. And yet, John sees them in their struggles and urges them to repent once again.
What John’s repeated calls for repentance show us is that God is constantly breaking into our hearts and reorienting our lives. Salvation is an ongoing process and repentance is best learned through repetition.
Questions for reflection
When have you had to practice repentance over the last several months?
About the Blog
In this season of plague, flood, fire, hungry cats, and Advent, we invite you to reflect on the words (such clever words!) of the Prophet John in the book of Revelation.
Perhaps you have encountered the #Liturgisaur on Instagram or Facebook. He is a small, green, pants wearing, one armed dinosaur who makes the rounds in Gladwin County and beyond, highlighting the various ministries of Christ the King Lutheran Church.