The Lost Art Of Repentance

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2, ESV).

I believe repentance is an art. A life of humility shines brighter in eternity than the power of oligarchs.

Repentance discerns error – both egregious and subtle. 

There are outlandish behaviors or gross sin and also hidden temptations. It is difficult to hide the outlandish, while simple phrases like “this is minor,” “no one will notice,” or “it won’t hurt anyone” – can cover sin until it becomes flagrant.

An artist, trained in the basics, can quickly discern the subtle.  

I remember watching a worship leader stop a worship team practice asking the guitarist to adjust one string as it was out of tune. Life artists need the fine art of repentance to stop hindrances, deviation, and anger before they become blatant.

Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “…that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

The Apostle Paul was an artist.

Repentance is a lost art today because culture has eliminated error (sin) under the guise of “whatever you think” is good, with devastating implications for abortion, sexual identity, and simple day-to-day decision making.

I don’t want to attend a concert with the artists released from decorum, unity, and harmony to perform as felt in the moment. It wouldn’t be a symphony and it wouldn’t be rock n’ roll. 

Having lost the art of discerning evil in our culture – is this the cause of increasing depression and violence?

Agreed, repentance needs rules – all art requires undergirding principles. Creativity in all art bends but doesn’t break the rules. In life, when the law is broken, repentance from grace can bring restoration.

How do we know if something is wrong with our behavior or attitude? What are the laws? And more importantly, where do we get the rules and the law?

The Psalmist combines both poetry and life artistry when writing Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (vv. 1-3).

In 1995, I stood in a museum viewing Vincent van Gogh’s White House at Night. It was in a collection of paintings, all of which were entitled Lost Art of World War II. This beautiful painting had been lost and then found.

Van Gogh’s creativity wasn’t appreciated in his live.

Today, thousands flock to see his actual paintings and media presentations of his art. He took the basics of color and design, eliminated the strictures of what art was supposed to look like in his day – and then created masterpieces.

Repentance means “change your mind” – and a necessity for all artists and life itself. Understanding what can and what shouldn’t be broken and changing accordingly creates lasting art.

The narrow opinions of others should not define us, but following God’s Word will create a life larger than the expanses of heaven.

Have you ever seen Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night?

Public Domain; File: Van Gogh – Starry Night – Google Art Project.jpg; Created: 1889 

Public Domain; File:Whitehousenight.jpg; Created: June 1890