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How does one repent?

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father…Luke 15:17-20

            When Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, he gave an example of how one repents.  The prodigal son rejected his father and moved away to spend his money on prostitutes and partying.  Then, while he sat in a pig pen, he realized something that led to his repentance:

·         I’ve created my situation.  I messed up.  I have sinned.

·         I’m not worthy of mercy and grace.

·         I will serve.

·         I will turn around and go back.

Someone who repents must go through those steps—accepting responsibility for their own actions, realizing they are not worthy of mercy, surrendering one’s life to serve, and leaving one’s sins behind and coming back to God.  How will God respond?  Like the father in the parable.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ Luke 15:20-21

            God is watching and waiting for all sinners to return home and he embraces anyone returns to him.  Then the person who has repented must confess directly to God and say, “I have sinned against you.  I’m not worthy.”  God then restores and elevates that person to family.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”  Luke 15:22-24

            There’s no accusations or “I told you so.”  There’s only acceptance and celebration.