“What do you mean by fruits of repentance [metanoia]?” Some people asked John the Baptizer.
“Show how spiritual you are in practical ways. You can start by noticing your belly is full but someone else is hungry. Don’t despise how desperate they look. A hungry man is an angry man. If you have enough lunch for two, share it. If you have two shirts, share one. How many clothes can you wear at once anyway?” John responded.
Some payday loan officers asked, “What should we do?”
The Baptizer answered, “Stop profiting off the impoverished. Use your business creativity to strengthen your neighbors instead of siphoning off of overworked people’s underpaid labor. Do you think you can be spiritually reconciled with God without addressing material wrongs done to his children? Can you be in right relationship with your earthly parents while abusing and cheating their sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters?”
“What should we do?” asked the police.
John appealed, “Don’t intimidate, bribe, plant evidence, and file false reports against people you’re supposed to protect and serve. Those things undermine their trust and make it dangerous for everyone, including you. Honor your calling to uphold the law by being accountable to it. Remember there is a higher law and Lawgiver you’ll be answering to.”
These are a few examples of why God’s word bypassed the imperial and ecclesial leaders like Tiberius and Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas. Instead he chose to speak through one crying in the wilderness. ~Luke 3:1-18, Mac’s Abridged Prophetic Imagination Paraphrase
In light of the centuries of serpentine oppression committed in the name of Christ, what in the metanoia should we do in 2022 to fill valleys, bring down mountains, and make the crooked ways straight?
Repent of Constantinian Christianity – This is a militaristic, coercive Christianity that tries to marry what Christ has put asunder. Recognize there is an inverse relationship between Christians’ pursuits of spiritual and political power. When Christians seek political coercion they become spiritually corrosive whether they attain political clout or not. There are reasons Christians and non-Christians alike are resistant to what White Evangelicalism is selling. The more spiritual power it loses the more it tries to gain through political power. How can American Christianity regain spiritual power?
Repent of Colonizing Christianity – If you think a legitimate way to spread the gospel is take over other people’s lands and institutions and displace their culture with your own, then you have been seduced by another gospel which is no gospel. If people are languishing rather than being liberated in the wake of your missionizing, then a different spirit has anointed your ministry than that which anointed Jesus.
Repent of Capitalistic Christianity – It is unbiblical leverage your will and skills for individual profit with little concern for those around you. Note that every biblical conversation of spiritual gifts (such as found in Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4) takes place in the context of the body. God blesses individual members with a diversity of gifts to bless the health and growth of the entire body of members, recognizing that we all suffer or flourish together. That’s why Romans 12 begins with the challenge for us to become living sacrifices. How can such a community-conscious movement as found in Acts 2:42-45 and Acts 4:32-35 calcify into an institution with such uncritical support of any economic system that leaves so many impoverished people in it’s wake?
Repent from the censorship of black voices – Thomas Skinner was a Black evangelical who was widely celebrated by White Evangelicals until he started addressing the sin of racism. He pointed out the ceaseless censorship of Black voices as a reason why White Evangelicals lack credibility with people of color:
“Understand that for those of us who live in the black community, it was not the evangelical who came and taught us our worth and dignity as black men. It was not the Bible-believing fundamentalist who stood up and told us that black was beautiful. It was not the evangelical who preached to us that we should stand on our two feet and be men, be proud that black was beautiful and that God could work his life out through our redeemed blackness. Rather, it took Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown and the Brothers to declare to us our dignity. God will not be without a witness… My friends, you must accept the fact that all truth is God’s truth, no matter who it comes from.” Urbana, 1970
Many conservatives cast aspersions of heresy at Christians who chronicle and condemn racist systems. Many progressives tell us we need to abandon Christianity because of how it’s been racially and socially weaponized. They too are censoring us from another angle while posing as allies. Both shackle our feet and manacle our minds.
Repent from coopting the movements, music, and muscle of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. If your support of BIPOC athletes, artists, and activists is contingent on you controlling the money and the messaging, then is it really support? Or has it just become fashionable to mass produce goods and services corresponding to historical awareness or public cries for justice? Who profits from the commercialization of Juneteenth, for instance? How much profit gets invested in the communities needing it most? How much of this activity leads to corporate leverage against unjust policies?
Repent from cutting and pasting black thought. One of the most blatant violations of this is the skewing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s line about content of character while overlooking his demand for cashing a check. And how dare you use his voice to insist on colorblindness when he knew and affirmed his blackness?
Repent of coercing consciences through cleverly coordinated single issue political posturing. The Religious Right’s obsession with anti-abortion wasn’t born from an altruistic desire to promote the image of God found in every person. It was a power play. The same pro-birth forces are often pro-gun, pro-war, pro-death penalty, pro-mass incarceration and are against increased voting access, environmental protection laws, increased healthcare access and equity, increased minimum wage, paid family leave, and are legislating the whitewashing of American History.
Repent of commanding cultural dominance packaged in multicultural containers. Why is it that most multicultural settings are controlled by the dominant culture? Such atmospheres seem to marinate a variety of vegetables in the dominant culture’s broth. There’s an appearance of diversity but lacking the flavor thereof. Perhaps repentance is too strong here. The leadership may very well be headed in the right direction and in need of rediscipling lessons. Embracing metanoia leads to life-long learning in koinonia (fellowship) for us all (1 John 1:1-4).