"There's a difference between remorse and repentance. Remorse is being sorry for being caught. Repentance is being sorry enough to stop." —Greg Laurie, Author, The Jesus Revolution
Who among us could not apply this statement to our own lives? Greg Laurie, who wrote about his life in the book and new movie, The Jesus Revolution, is pastor of one of the largest churches in the U.S. It was a small production effort that became a blockbuster at the box office. Laurie was raised by an alcoholic mother who married seven times and moved her son from one coast to another, from New Jersey to Hawaii, finally landing in Los Angeles. Little more than a nomad, he was 17 when he heard a hippie preacher speaking on a California college campus. His life was changed.
Laurie started out a wide-eyed baby Christian, following the tent meetings of Chuck Smith's Calvary Chapel—overwhelmed by the force of the message that Jesus loved him and welcomed him—a nobody from a dysfunctional family, without money or standing. But just two years later, at the age of 19, Pastor Smith, gave him the opportunity to lead a Bible study of 30 people. From that meager beginning he developed Harvest Christian Fellowship, a church that now has 15,000 members.
But back to Laurie's statement, what really changes us from remorse to repentance? A word? A death? Prison? Divorce? Illness? Loss? There's an old joke where someone asks you, "Are you still beating your wife?" Whether you say yes, or no, you're guilty. But life isn't a joke and we are all guilty of something. Do we just feel bad and move on, or do we repent and stop? In 2 Corinthians, Jesus says, " I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting."
Most the problems we have are ones we help create. We are each the constant in every relationship we have. If there is trouble everywhere, we may have to face the realization that we had something to do with causing the trouble. So do we reach for repentance or just remorse? If you've ever been between a rock and a hard place, you know that there is really only one path that will lead you out. Remorse is great, but true, active repentance, now that's another thing entirely.