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Forgiving, Reinventing and Repositioning: Adjusting to Change

African American news on reinventing or repositioning yourselfThen Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:21-22, NRSV)

T. D. Jakes' 2007 book entitled, Repositioning Yourself, comes to mind in the case of former gold medalist track star Marion Jones. A once crowd favorite and inspiring champion now appears in a WNBA uniform as a rookie player for the Tulsa Shock. Whatever we feel about Jones, she, like many of us, especially during the current social and economical climate, has had to rethink of a way to reinvent or reposition herself.

The concepts of reinventing and repositioning should not be understood in the same way, nor are the two mutually exclusive from one another. Although both concepts witness to the grace, faithfulness and mercy of God. To reposition oneself to continue to operate in the same vein, however, in a new arena or a new venue (or place).

It has more to do with changing one's attitude or mind. Repositioning also carries the notion of broadening one's appeal. Although some of this can be seen in the notion of reinventing, this notion suggests starting over or creating something new as if to start afresh or start from scratch – going back to the drawing board. Jones, in some sense, has done both, the latter being more explicit. Banned from the sport of track and field, Jones would either pull from her other talents or resign to work in mediocrity. In a way, Jones challenges all of us that reside in a land of dead end gig after gig. She challenges us in that she has (so far) been able to make lemon-ade out of lemons.

A major aspect of repositioning or reinventing oneself rest upon the notion of forgiveness. One is able to reposition or reinvent her or himself first if they have the perseverance, will and desire to turn things around and make the best of a current situation. What is your current situation?

God gives us the ability to reposition or reinvent ourselves primarily for his glory, purpose, and will. God is looking for true witnesses in this current climate. Secondly, forgiving someone for something enables the forgiven to continue with life despite past events, actions, deeds, etc . . . Forgiveness begins with the Lord – he has forgiven us in that the sacrificed life of Jesus is propitiation. From here, forgiveness must be an inner working which fuels the forgiven to continue. Like Peter, the Lord instructs us to forgive others as we too need forgiveness:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:12 and 15, NRSV).

We are a forgiven people – now how will we move forward – repositioned or reinvented?

[Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins is Scholar-in-Residence at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Atlanta, GA and is a Professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center also in Atlanta. He is the author of "Ecclesiastes" in the African Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures through Africa and the African Diaspora (Fortress Press), 2009, and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" in the Journal of African American Christian Thought 1 (2009). Hopkins is available for preaching, lecturing, speaking or conducting workshops or seminars. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]


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