It is a new year, and I believe you would want to do things different; and rekindle your relationship with God. You have certainly heard of repentance in those Sunday sermons and from roadside preachers. You probably have also been to the confession box every now and again in a bid to repent of your sins and lift the burden of guilt from your shoulders. However, is that all it takes? What is true repentance?
“Repentance includes going to confession to confess your sins to the priest, who is a representative of God, after which he instructs you on what prayers to say or days to fast, in order to punish your body,” Remigius Ssekikubo, a 28-year-old Catholic, says.
On the other hand, Daniel Muyomba, 26, an Anglican, believes that repentance is largely about you and God. “I may not necessarily tell anyone about what I have done, but if I have that conviction in my heart that what I have done is wrong, then I think that is repentance.”
On the contrary, Daisy Mujuzi, a Pentecostal, says if true repentance is to be achieved, three things must happen. “One acknowledges that what they are doing is wrong, they stop it, and finally there must be change in direction or totally changing from what they have been doing.” Furthermore, she emphasises that if all these three steps are not taken, then true repentance has not been achieved. “What happens sometimes is that people notice, stop, but they never turn to walk in a totally different direction. Before long, they go back into doing the same thing.”
Confession is the way
Fr Ronnie Mubiru, education secretary Vicariate, St Jude Parish, Wakiso says from the Catholic view point, true repentance occurs when one acknowledges their sinfulness, and so they seek forgiveness.
“One goes for penance in order to be forgiven after they recognise they have sinned against God - by breaking any of the commandments or wronging their neighbours.”
He further explains that as part of the sacrament, one needs to confess their sins to someone who acts as a representative of Jesus on earth. But at the basis of true repentance is love. “We need to be driven by love to God and to our neighbours. We should also recognise that we are human and thus, we all sin. So the worst sinner is one who cannot repent,” Fr Mubiru says.
Between God and the sinner
For the Rev Canon Jonathan Kisawuzi, Archdeacon of Entebbe, all they can do as ministers of God is to encourage the people to confess their sins to God. “Repentance is personal. It is between God and the person who has sinned. So, one should be willing to take a step, pour his heart to God and repent of their sins. That happens through prayer.”
Change in mind
Francis Zziwa, one of the teachers in the Apostolic School of ministry, Lubowa, says true repentance comes as a result of the individual, involved in committing the sin realising that what they are doing or what they have done is wrong or ungodly. “After realising, the person gets godly sorrow and they start to genuinely feel sorry for what they have committed which leads them to repentance.”
Zziwa emphasises that true repentance must be accompanied with a change in mind. “If you have been heading in a particular direction, you totally turn to start heading in a different and Godly direction.”
Untrue repentance can be compared to a child caught stealing. You want to punish them but they plead with you to never again steal. So you forgive them. After a while, you catch them doing the same thing. And the cycle continues.
Conclusively, one cannot be forced to repent, if it does not stem from their hearts, which therefore means, repentance is a personal initiative that one deliberately decides to take. It is more than just confessing your sins to God, church or your leaders if you personally have not decided to discontinue the sin.
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Luke 17:3