Jesus began his ministry on earth with a call to repent. The recognition of our sin and turning away from it toward God is the beginning of our salvation by grace through faith. Confession is certainly important, but there are those who say you must “fully repent” in order to be saved. But how sorry is sorry enough?
I have seen this many times in the church and especially within my family. Someone will refuse to extend grace and forgiveness because another has not properly demonstrated repentance. They separate themselves from each other in order to protect their self image. They don’t want to be known as someone who tolerates sin.
I am not saying that God tolerates sin; but Jesus never separated himself from sinners for fear of what others might say. He never made sure that people knew he did not approve of their sin. He extended grace and love again and again before the sinner could even utter a word of repentance. The father ran to his son with arms open while he was still a long way off.
I do not mean to take grace lightly. I also believe that whenever God reveals an area in our lives we have not surrendered to him, we need to let it go. But to think that I have to reach a certain level of repentance in order to receive grace is ridiculous. Can I ever fully identify with the sadness and pain that my sin inflicts on God? To enforce “full repentance” on others is to withhold the very grace God has given us. Even worse, it affects our view of God as we begin to think we need to earn his grace and forgiveness. Jesus has already paid the price for our lives. Let us not hold anyone back from receiving the gift he freely gives.
This is only a short summary of some of my thoughts on this issue. Whether you agree or disagree, I would love to continue this conversation with you.