If God is a magnet, I have the opposite attraction. It's in my nature. I am naturally repelled by that all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present being who desires me, not to consume me but to dwell within and be king there.
And although I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I now have opposite magnetic poles within me: a repulsion of God, which is the old life, and an attraction to God, which is the life of the spirit.
Or think of it another way.
My life is like a bowling ball pitched down the lane towards the pin deck where I'm expected to get a strike. But I was thrown askew and there is absolutely no way I'm going to stay in my lane. I will be in the gutter long before I'm even close to the pins.
But, since my faith in Christ, God has set up the bumpers so that now this wayward ball goes bumping down the rails to where Christ has already knocked over the pins scoring a perfect 300 for me.
The correction within me has begun, but I would be a fool to think that I'm now rolling quite nicely. No, I am in fact riding the rail.
Repentance is an acknowledgement of the rail riders. It is not something I do only when I notice how badly I'm knocking into the bumpers, no. Most of the time I don't notice the rails at all or that I'm banging into them every day, yes, even every hour. I think I'm rolling quite straight and can't understand why my neighbors can't roll as nicely as I do.
Repentance is a lifestyle of remembering how my very nature has thrown me off course. It is remembering that opposite magnetic pole within me that is pulling me away from God every moment of every day, not just when I notice that I did something wrong, but when I think I'm actually a good person. At my worst and when I'm deceived into believing I've got this, I need repentance.
I need repentance because it acknowledges what I am without God.
I need repentance because without it, I start to condemn and judge my brothers and sisters.
I need repentance because it allows the magnetic pull towards God to overpower the pull against him.
I need repentance because it makes a space for God to be king in me.
I need repentance because the kingdom of heaven is at hand and it can have no entrance into a heart that is full of itself and dominated by self and in love with itself. It can only enter into an empty self, emptied through repentance.
I confess I am a rail rider, but by the grace of God, I have already won the game.
"In confession the Christian begins to forsake his sins. Their dominion is broken. From now on the Christian wins victory after victory." (Bonhoeffer, 115)