The other night, Norma Jean and I watched one of our favorite movies again, The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock, who portrayed Leigh Ann Tuohy.
This awe-inspiring film tells the story of the Tuohy family who took in a homeless young man, Michael Oher, and gave him the chance to reach his God-given potential. Oher not only dodged the hopelessness of his dysfunctional inner city upbringing, but became the first-round NFL draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.
Recently at a fund-raiser, Sean Tuohy noted that the transformation of his family and Michael all started with two words. When they spotted Michael walking along the road on a cold November morning in shorts and a T-shirt, Leigh Ann Tuohy uttered two words that changed their world. She told Sean, “Turn around.”
They turned the car around, put Michael in their warm vehicle, and ultimately adopted him into their family.
Turn around. Those two words can change your life. Put you on an exciting new adventure. And change the lives of others.
Turn around. It’s why Jesus came to earth. He wants us to turn around!
Turn around. It’s the Bible definition of repentance.
In one of the great verses of the Bible Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32)
Repentance is about change and turning around. My mentor, Aude McKee, used to illustrate repentance as someone driving down a road and realizing they were going the wrong direction and turning around.
Sinful humanity was going the wrong direction. They needed to stop heading the wrong way. And turn around to follow Jesus. And so do we!
Based on Bible case studies of repentance like King David, the prodigal son, and the apostle Peter, we can observe what steps are involved in true repentance.
(1) Recognition of Sin. The prophet Jeremiah condemned the people of Israel who plead, “I am innocent….I have not sinned!” (Jer. 2:35) Yet they were guilty before God. In contrast David said, “I have sinned.” (2 Sam. 12:13)
(2) Remorse. The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor 7:10). There is a huge difference for being sorry for our sins, and feeling sorry that we got caught! Suffered embarrassment. Or lost position, prestige, or income.
(3) Resolve. When the lost son in Jesus’ parable “came to himself” to decided to make things right. To go home. To confess sin. And accept the consequences.
(4) Reformation. The fruits of repentance are realized in a reformed life. A changed life. A different life. A new life. A change both inside and outside.
(5) Restitution. When possible, repentance results in restitution. In making amends. In repairing damages. In restoring what is right. This was the spirit Zachaccus, the tax collector, had when he told Jesus, “If I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Lk. 19:8)
(6) Rejoicing. When we really repent, we will feel joyful. Real repentance results in restoration. Renewal. And revival. Sins are remitted. Relationships are repaired. Spiritual regeneration is received.
If you are passing up opportunities to do good, Jesus says, “turn around.” If you speeding down life’s highway heading toward sinful practices, Jesus says, “turn around”. If you are a Christian who has lost your way, Jesus says, “turn around”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman