Inspirational music blasted out of the all-surround Dolby Atmos speakers, all eyes transfixed on the ginormous, flashing screen. Holding my breath, I gasped (a lot louder than I had anticipated, considering that the kid next to me nearly jumped out of his seat) as the most epic motivational scene in Captain Marvel rolled.
Dun dun dun…
There she lay, powerlessly sprawled on the ground before the alien AI Skrull leader. At last, Carol Denvers got up. She got up just like she did as a young girl and just like she did as a training pilot. She arose and with a mighty blast of light, she decimated her enemy into an array of pixels.
We all have to admit that there is something so special and inspiring about scenes where a struggling character gets up and presses on to victory. What’s the significance of getting up? Believe it or not, the Bible has its very own scene where a character heroically “gets up” and perseveres to accomplish his mission:
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.” – Luke 15:17-20a (NIV)
The story of the prodigal son is one of the best stories demonstrating all four R’s in action. Just to remind ourselves, below are the 4 R’s to true repentance:
1. Realization of my sin
2. Remorse over my depravity in sin
3. Response to God regarding my sin
4. Restoration of my relationship with God
In the passage above, the prodigal son “came to his senses,” signifying the dawning realization of how horrible his sin really was. In his mind, he was probably thinking something like this: “What I did was really wrong and hurtful to my father and firstly to God. I am a terrible sinner.” He then felt the depth of his disconnection with his father, realizing that even his father’s servants were better off than him, showing that he had utter remorse over his sin. But he did not stop there. His sorrow did not direct him toward self-pity or self-justification but directed him toward God, and he longed for reconciliation with his father. He responded with a clear admission of his sins: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” And lastly, he actively sought restoration by doing something about this revelation: he got up and went back to his father.
The words “get up” are words that too many of us readily gloss over when reading the parable of the prodigal son. This simple action of getting up holds the most significance in his eventual reconciliation with his father because it is living proof of his changed heart and that he has turned away from his sin. Remember the definition of repentance? Repentance is a change of mind or a change in direction.
Yes, repentance is not a result of works that earn salvation, but it is the result of salvation which leads to works. It is impossible for someone to change their heart and not change their actions. Matthew 3:8 says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (ESV). A mark of a person who has truly repented is his or her effort to do something intentional and practical to change a bad habit or hidden sin.
Matthew 7:17-18 states, “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (ESV). True repentance will transform a bad tree into a good tree, transforming bad fruits into good fruits. It is not because we are “good” or “holy” on our own, but it is because of God graciously imputing His righteousness on us through Christ’s crucifixion on the cross that we are able to live as instruments for His glory.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Think about the following questions: Have I taken any specific actions to flee from temptation in my particular sin area? Have I told godly mentors about my issues and asked for their advice? Am I accountable for my actions? Do I intentionally and regularly ask the Lord to change my heart?
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20b (NIV)I really encourage you to check out this wonderful song called “When God Ran” about this moment in the parable of the prodigal son. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Akv2V5fNdk
This is my constant prayer, and I hope you will make it yours: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” –Psalm 51:10 (ESV).
I want to “get up” and change my direction, turning away from sin and toward God. I will not be perfect, but I trust God will guide me. Will you “get up”?
If you have joined me throughout this whole series on the 4 R’s to true repentance, I sincerely appreciate you, and I thank you. It means the world to me that what God has taught me may be passed on to another. God bless, and have a thrilling summer!