How To Change Your Heart

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 3:2 

Dear members and friends,

One thing that all Christians desire is a guarantee to enter the kingdom of heaven. Traditionally, Christians tend to believe that attending the Sunday worship service regularly and giving their time, talent, and money to their church institution is sufficient to get that guarantee. However, when we read the Gospels, both Jesus and John the Baptist emphasize something else: repentance. According to Jesus, repentance is the key to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, what does it mean to repent? 

In an English dictionary, the word repent is defined as “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.” This is deeply problematic because when Jesus and John the Baptist proclaim “repent,” they did not intend for one to feel sadness or express regret or remorse. The word regret is defined as “to feel sad, repentantant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity),” while the word remorse is defined as “a deep regret coming from a sense of guilt for past wrongs.” This is still incorrect because what we are emphasizing with the word “repent” is having a sense of sadness or disappointment in our mind. However, the Greek word metanoeó, which is translated as “repent,” truthfully means “to change one’s mind or purpose.” Thus, when Jesus and John the Baptist cried out saying, “repent,” what they really meant was “change your heart or purpose!” Consequently, if we would like to enter the kingdom of heaven, it is critically important to change our hearts, which are attached to what is of the earth. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment to reflect on the teachings of Jesus regarding the kingdom of heaven this week. What does it mean to change our hearts? May the spirit of the loving Creator guide you and illuminate your minds. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee