“Repent!” Herod is so haunted by this invitation that, when he hears it spreading through the countryside, he believes it must be from John the Baptist, the prophet he killed.
Maybe I’m haunted too. I remember that adolescent altar call that led me to publicly profess my faith with mixed feelings—recognizing the preacher used guilt and shame to emotionally manipulate us in the congregation, but also knowing that somehow I also heard the voice
of the Lord, who continues to make a costly and liberating claim on
The Greek word for repent, metanoia, means to turn and go another way. I no longer believe this is just a one-time confession or decision to profess. I now see it as a continuing willingness to listen and change as we are confronted by the Spirit of God, who is always pushing us to be more honest, more just, and more loving. With every “yes” to this Spirit, we live more fully into the image of God and our true selves while also losing more power and control. This is the very thing our individual egos hate and our unjust systems resist.
This is why Jezebel threatened Elijah, why Herod killed John, and why we continue to silence and execute the prophets of our age. Prophets are those who tell the truth we are not yet ready to hear. No wonder the ghost of John keeps Herod up at night.
What costly, yet liberating claim does God want to make on your life?
Holy Spirit, give us the courage to turn and go another way in order to follow your lead, no matter what we fear we might lose. Amen.