Monday, 22 February 2010
Repentance Vs Remorse
It is important not to confuse repentance with remorse. Repentance swirls around the triad of self, God and others. When we repent we look at ourselves and the human being we are (and in contrast, the human being we are called to be). We are cut to the heart with an awareness of what we are doing to others and therefore the whole human family. This is much more than sorrow for individual acts (but includes this). And in repentance we are struck by our disobedience to God, our 'stuckness' and therefore our need for God. The three - self, others, and God - are coordinated in repentance, and mutually present, for it is impossible to reflect on the human being I have made myself and not be aware, at least in the background, of our creation in God's image. Remorse, on the other hand, tends toward the severing of the ties that bind this triad together. Sorry that you were caught? That's remorse. The desire to be a better person without being led to reflecting on our relationship with others (and what we have done to them) and God (and not the god who is a tool in our hands to make us feel better about ourselves, but the real God who justifies us) is remorse, not repentance. Remorse is about us alone; repentance is about us being pulled into the orbit of others as real people, and into God on God's terms.
When repentance begins we can start at any one of the three mentioned above. But repentance will move us further than any one of them.