Michelle had never considered herself to be a particularly bad person, so why did she feel the need to repent?
‘For as long as I can remember, I have believed that the Bible tells the truth about who Jesus is. My parents were believers and our family went to church every week. My parents’ faith and lifestyle of ministry and service was always a household priority. My mum was unwell throughout much of my childhood, and her bed-based Bible reading, prayer life and unwavering faith was very noticeable to me. So too was my dad’s commitment to Mum and us children, and his trust in God despite Mum’s very difficult health circumstances.
‘So I think I grew up recognising God as a comforter. While I’m sure I heard (and at some level believed) that Jesus died for people’s sin, I did not grasp or understand that I was one of those sinners until around the age of 13. My understanding of my own sinfulness was revealed to me over a number of weeks. I had never felt that I was a particularly bad person, but I somehow began to understand that, as Acts 17:30 states so simply, “God commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
‘Repentance and the need to become right with God wasn’t needed only by people who were blatantly bad: it was for all people, everywhere. I began to see how wonderful it was that Jesus took my sin when he died on the cross, and therefore saved my life when he rose again. I grew in my understanding that, actually, I was one of those sinners he died for! And in response to that I loved and appreciated Jesus’ gift even more. I committed to live my life in a way that would please him. It was the least I could do. You could say that I was reassured in my salvation even before I realised that I personally needed Jesus. And my faith, confidence and trust in him grew from that time onwards, and hasn’t really wavered despite a few hurdles that life has thrown at me. In fact, on the contrary; all the big hurdles have ended up strengthening my relationship with Jesus rather than weakening it.
‘Part of me wishes I had a more astounding testimony to share. But I’ve learned to embrace the fact that I never heard a loud voice of God. That’s okay. Instead, I savour the fact that his love kind of snuck up on me. I know the creator, God, and his son, Jesus. I had the privilege of growing up with them, before I understood how amazing it was that they were in my life—that they gave me life. That really is amazing.
‘Who does God command to repent? All people, everywhere. Who did Jesus come to save? All people, everywhere. What a wonderfully inclusive God we have. Regardless of family of origin we all have to do the same thing to come into right relationship with God: acknowledge our sinfulness, accept the saving work of the cross and in our hearts know Jesus as Lord. Have you? Do you?’