How to reconstruct our Christian lives.

The big word around IBM these days is restructure.

For years IBM dominated its field. Other high-risk ventures might outperform it for a season, but year in, year out, the smart money was on Big Blue.

Not anymore, IBM’s stock value plunged in the early nineties. And for the first time, IBM is no longer the leading maker of personal computers.

When it became clear to management that what they were doing was not getting them where they wanted to go, IBM committed to restructuring. This meant a leaner workforce, changed spending priorities, and an organizational chart that redistributed power.

To restructure means to reconsider your strategy, to redeploy your resources to fulfill your mission. It requires both a clear understanding of the goal and a willingness to rearrange activities in ways that best bring movement to the goal.

Of course, not only corporations restructure. Sports teams, universities, even families do it as they pass through life’s seasons. My mother, for instance, drove a station wagon when she had three children at home; now she drives a foreign convertible.

Most important, people can restructure. This suggests a helpful way of understanding the fundamental response Jesus called for in his teaching. “Repent,” he says, in Matthew’s summary of his message, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In other words, his was a new proclamation of the goal of human life. It was suddenly possible to live in a different way under the reign of God. With this goal in mind, Jesus says, it is time to reconsider your strategy for life. To repent is to restructure, to rearrange your activity around the offer of kingdom living.

Repentance, however, is all too often misunderstood. For many people, ...

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