If you would have asked me 35 years ago if I was a Christian, I would probably have looked at you, adjusted my white and collared polo shirt, played with the cute little fish pin that adorned the right side of my collar, and looked over at my collection of 500 or more Christian music cassette tapes and CD’s and then finally answered you with a proud “Yes.” I was in charge of the audio department at my church and I was even on the Board of Christian Education for a term or two. Still, if you would have then asked me to expound upon what it means to be a Christian, I would probably have said that I believed in God and/or Jesus and that would be about as much as I could tell you about anything.
Fast forward to even 5 or so years ago and things would have not have changed that much as far as my answers would go. Externally, I could speak Christianeese fluently enough to pass muster, but internally I was as much of a Christian as I was a potato. I had fallen deep into the #1 downfall of mankind (including Christians,) I had willfully ignored the God that I was introduced to and began to idolize and worship my own god instead. My personal god was pretty cool, he agreed with me on everything. If I changed my mind on something, so did he. I could rationalize and justify everything I did and he was in full agreement with me. My god loved everything I did because he loved me unconditionally. God is love, after all.
I was sure that when I died, my little G god would do exactly what everyone tells me he does, he would look at my heart and see that I was a good person and welcome me into heaven. I deserved it, of course; I did a lot of good things for my god. I fed homeless people, gave a fortune to charitable causes, helped whoever needed help, unlike all those phony so-called Christians elsewhere. I knew Jesus' first name. Heck, sometimes I even read the parts of the bible I agreed with. I was a pretty rad dude and so was my god.
When I first heard about the word “repent”, I knew I had that covered too. I did that. When I had become a “new christian,” I went around apologizing to all of the people I had seriously hurt. This unsuspecting handicapped guy -- with a smile on his face all of the time -- did a lot of really rotten things, and few, except for the victims, ever knew anything about it. I felt regretful about the people I hurt, I apologized to them for it and my spiffy god cleansed my soul of any remaining sorrow.
Then one day I learned the true meaning of that word. Repent. When you commit a wrong, you’re not just committing it against another person, or even yourself, you are committing it against God Himself. Now that is different. Now it is not just about apologizing to a person, it’s about apologizing to God. Not only that, it’s about recognizing that wrongness and turning away from it whenever and wherever it crosses your path. I had not done that.
At that moment things became abundantly clear. All of these decades, I was not simply falling into sinful behaviors, I was gleefully diving into them. I searched it out. Repentance is simply the right response to a wrong activity and it is the evidence that God has truly transformed you. Honestly, there was not a single ounce of evidence to be found in me.
When I truly repented, my heart was radically changed. Does it mean I’m perfect? No, it just means I stopped intentionally looking for the deepest holes to jump into and being on guard so that I don’t fall into them either.
Examine yourself. Have you fallen in the same trap I did? Ask yourself the question "Am I A Rotten Fish?"
If you haven’t already, repent now and put your trust in Jesus Christ.