January 22, 2012

Jonah had quite an adventure. His story is not about being swallowed by a whale; that is incidental to the story. Jonah is about a call, resistance to the call, and a change of heart. Even after Jonah’s change of heart, God challenged him to grow even further. Jonah represents the struggle we all have with “repentance,” which means having a change of heart, only to change it even more. Always a challenge to our stubbornness, spirituality is the willingness to change.

In Greek, “repentance” is “metanoia.” “Meta-” means “beyond” or “change.” “Noia” is a from of “nous” which means, “mind.” “Metanoia” means going beyond or changing one’s mind set. Christianity invites us to change, to become a new creation, to rise above ourselves and become something more. Sometimes this change can be dramatic and occur in a moment (like Jonah’s whale event). Sometimes, it is a continual renewing or rebirth, every day (like Jonah sitting under the bush).

“Repentance” is at the heart of evangelism. Both John the Baptist and Jesus set about their ministries asking people to “repent,” or “change their mind sets.” The benefits of such became know as the “gospel,” or the “good news,” “euangelion” or “evangelism.”