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Christian Blog forgiveness

Must Repentance Happen All at Once?

My blogging buddy Jeffrey has a daily series where he shares a scripture passage and then provides some brief thoughts. The topic this July 4th was, “Let it go,”– based on Colossians 3:13–and it was all about forgiving the faults of others because, after all, Jesus does the same for us.

Jeffrey is quite the wordsmith when it comes to encapsulating truth. And somehow, this pithy statement (below) jarred my memory about a rush to judgement involving someone who later became famous.

We’re all in the ditch. Who’s got the right to say I’m muddier than they are?

Jeffrey H. King, in Quote for 07/04/2020

I recently learned an interesting fact about country music legend Willie Nelson. In the 1950’s he taught Sunday School at a Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas! However, his pastor gave him an ultimatum–either stop playing music in beer joints, or stop teaching Sunday School.

Nelson, who told Rolling Stone magazine in 1978 that he once considered being a preacher, left the church (and organized Christianity) for good. Understandably, he was disappointed by a policy that arbitrarily condemned people like him. According to a 1997 interview in Texas Monthly, “Willie’s God was always willing to give a guy another chance.”

*Maybe it’s just me, but that pastor sounds a bit legalistic.

No, playing music in bars and teaching Sunday School don’t exactly go together, but was it REALLY necessary to give Willie such an ultimatum?

“Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.”

Ann Dunham

Instead of firing Willie, his pastor could have suggested starting a Saturday night concert series at the church, where Nelson and his music buddies played alcohol free shows featuring gospel and G-rated country music. Monetary donations for the musicians could have come from church members and the community. Who knows, maybe the “Red-headed Stranger” would have said yes?

That church missed a unique opportunity to reach people with the gospel.

This brings up the idea of repentance. It means the same thing between everyone and God–a turning around–but it doesn’t always happen the same way. Some have an all-at-once-life-changing testimony, but others do not.

Please observe the following crudely drawn illustrations:

My good friend, and brother in Christ, came up with a saying that’s a great example of the picture on the right:

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.”

Tom Myers

Just in case you’re wondering, the idea that people can repent in stages, and not just all at once, is in the Bible.

2 Kings chapter 5:1-19 tells the story of Naaman, a brave Syrian army commander. He was a successful soldier, and the king’s right hand man, but Naaman had an incurable skin disease called leprosy. Through a captured Israelite girl, he is encouraged to seek healing from the prophet Elisha.

The General is healed of his leprosy, and pledges—going forward—to worship only the God of Israel. However, he asks for forgiveness, when, back home with the King of Syria, he visits the temple of the pagan god Rimmon and customarily bows to the idol.

Elisha’s response? “Go in peace.”

So, there it is. One of the greatest prophets of Israel’s history didn’t condemn a man for wrongly bowing to an idol; he knew Naamon would keep turning left until he was right.

Something tells me, had they lived at the same time and place, Willie and Naamon would have been good friends.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Jesus –Luke 6:37

*Perhaps it’s hypocritical of me to judge Willie’s pastor. Like my buddy Jeffrey H. King says, let it go.

By davidsdailydose

I'm just a regular guy who was
tempted to lose all hope but did not. It was God who made the difference.

17 replies on “Must Repentance Happen All at Once?”

Yes sir. As a helper and encourager, its disappointing each time I hear about someone being judged unnecessarily. I just wish Willie’s pastor would have erred on the side of mercy instead of judgement.
Christians shouldn’t shoot their own wounded.

Liked by 1 person

Willie’s story is a story of us all, of how we’d been judge before by men and women and not by God. People will judge and condemn , close their doors if we don’t conform and commit . God on the other forgives a thousand times and more, always open his doors for our return, doesn’t condemn our past mistakes and gives us lots of hope and second chances. I do see however God working through people , inspiring & guiding the lost and loving them unconditionally.

Liked by 1 person

Well, I’m glad you did. I enjoy our dialogue! You might recall she came to speak at my church last September and had a HUGE impact here! She is absolutely the sweetest young lady! She wants to grow her speaking ministry. If you want her to come to your church, you might ask her after the COVID thing dies down. Right now she’s being very careful, because her ulcerative colitis, though in remission, is an auto-immune condition that she must guard carefully. If you want to see her presentation, check her blog after 9/29/19, the date she spoke here.

Liked by 1 person

That’s what I love about blogging – sharing ideas and perspectives on them. It’s like getting readings from multiple seismic listening locations to pinpoint an earthquake epicenter. BeautyBeyondBones constantly provokes thoughts for me. Thank you very much for sharing and the encouragement!!

Liked by 1 person

Thanks, Pete. Food for thought is what I was trying to bring. My focus was on the pastor who didn’t do enough to help Willy Nelson. Making a definitive statement on the doctrine of repentance was not my goal. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Hmmm very interesting post. I’m not sure about gradual repentance. I see gradual change but in my experience those rare and God gifted moments or repentance were deep honest and thorough. You want to be careful not to dilute the miracle of conversion but you have given us food for thought.

Liked by 1 person

I will agree parts of this posting is true…….
The pastor error greatly, because Sunday School is not supported by the Lord, and how the Body is to function. The father learns from the Pastor/teacher, then the Father teaches his family. No other person can have authority over the teaching children, except the parents.
So the Pastor was disobedient to the Foundations laid out by the Lord in how His Body was to worship Him. The institutionalized church is truly following the Anti-Christ spirit.

However, the Lord does teach us that we are in the World, but if we follow Him along His path, we will not be part of the World. He states “if” we Love the World, then we can not be His Disciples….that’s the Lord’s word. If we hate not the world and all it has to offer, then we are not His Children, we are children of the world.
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Joh 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Does the world hate the Gospel of Willie Nelson? Do the unsaved entertainer’s he is friends with “hate his gospel”? If not, as seen by his popularity through the decades, then we according to the Lord’s word are right to judge him as unsaved, because of his fruit. Being unsaved he can do whatever he desires to, Willie Nelson is not bound to the cross, and only God can judge the unconverted, which is the case of Willie Nelson.
In His Love,
Lord bless you

Liked by 1 person

Trust, love and forgiveness isn’t that the way the Lord asks us to be to ourselves and others, then the church comes in with all these rules based solely on appearance. Yes, it is hypocritical to say one thing and then act in another way. Both examples can and do exist. Great example David, thank you for sharing these truths.

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