Thursday, March 02, 2017

Repentance?

I'm trying to figure out how this works. I'm only using this story as an example because you know it's only one of many, but there is this story out of Arlington, Texas, of a preschool teacher, Nancy Salem, who was fired because she posted not one, but a series of tweets about killing Jews. One said, "How many Jews died in the Holocaust? Not enough!" Okay, so, good, she was fired. As it should be. This isn't what we want teaching preschool. The part I don't get, however, is this.
Salem has since released a statement that said she was "truly sorry for the pain and hurt my words caused, especially to members of the Jewish faith."
Is that it? Is that how it works? You dump out appalling hate on the Internet and, when you're caught, simply say you're "truly sorry"? John the Baptist preached repentance, but with a different flavor. "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." (Luke 3:8) You can see that's much beyond, "I'm sorry." This kind of repentance shows in a change in lifestyle. This kind of repentance goes beyond mere words likely intended to put out the fire others have set on you.

It's easy to think of this story and my writing about it as an attack on Muslims or anti-Semitism or whatever else you may think, but I'm not pointing at Nancy Salem. I'm pointing at so many of these events where an apology appears to be required, even if no genuine repentance is forthcoming. Like the Mark Cuban assault on the Bleacher Reports tweet that was "disrespectful" of one of his players. With foul language and outright threats Cuban forced the Bleacher Reports to take down the tweet he found offensive and apologize ... because foul language and threats are not disrespectful, but making a joke is. But my point isn't Cuban, as two-faced as he was. My point was the apology. Repentant? Not likely. Just scared of the consequences.

I don't understand how that's supposed to work. Make a bad tweet or comment or something, face the wrath of the anonymous Internet, and "repent" with an "I'm sorry; it was a poor choice of words", and it's all good. It's not. And an "I'm sorry" is not defined as repentance.

Behind this point is my important one. You and I ought not be satisfied with this kind of repentance in ourselves. If it's avoiding fire or pain or seeking to get along, it's the wrong kind of repentance. The right kind changes how you and I live. The right kind is accompanied by fruit -- the fruits of repentance, the obedience of faith (Rom 16:26). Let's not practice self-serving repentance. Real repentance will prevent us from repeating those things of which we have repented.

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