Take a moment and think back. No think further back than that. No, No, No go on further back to a time when you were in school. Go back to the beginning when it all started. I was in Florida attending elementary school. We had no air conditioning, just windows that opened to catch the breeze. We had no police on the school grounds because the principal took care of any discipline that needed to be handled, I should know! There also was a difference in what was taught in school. We learned about God, respect, honor, and manners. These things helped us learn how to relate to each other in society. Mainly we learned the 3 R’s. Remember it was reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. It was a different time and a different place. It would seem very strange to children today, and yet it might be refreshing for them.
Thinking about the 3 R’s of education, I am reminded of God’s 3 R’s. These are 3 things which God is concerned with and which greatly influence our lives.
God’s first R is REPENTANCE. Repentance is a big churchy word which means to “turn around.” It’s to change one’s mind and actions. It carries the idea of stopping and starting. Paul says we are to repent from our sins [Acts 8:22] and to repent toward God [Acts 20:21]. It’s a turning from sin to God and brings with it a whole new way of looking at our lives. Sin is a very grievous thing to God. It is basically disbelief in what God says, rising out of man’s pride and selfishness [Hebrews 3:12]. It tore apart any relationship there was between God and man [Isaiah 59:2]. Without acknowledging of sin [1 John 1:9] and turning to God in faith [Acts 20:21] there is no salvation. We must remember that the one true Holy God never ignores our sin, He acknowledges it. He never condones our sin, He condemns it. He never participates in our sin, He convicts us of our sin.
God’s second R is RECONCILIATON. This is another word we use in church which might need elaboration. Reconciliation is the mending of a broken relationship. For two people to be reconciled they must be separated. Man’s sinful nature brings about this broken relationship with God [Isaiah 1:15]. God is all about reconciling sinful men to Himself [2 Corinthians 5:19]. God takes no delight in this broken relationship [Ezekiel 33:11]. He patiently waits, giving men the opportunity to turn to faith in Jesus Christ which secures their forgiveness of their unbelief [2 Peter 3:9] and the salvation of their souls from God’s wrath against sin [Romans 2:5]. God has done everything that is needed for reconciliation to take place. It is up to man through faith in Jesus Christ to accept it in repentance.
The third R of God is RESTORATION. God is not just interested in our repentance or reconciliation. God is in the restoring business. The work of God in man’s life is not just a makeover or some kind of a spiritual ‘lift’. God remakes man and restores him to his proper place in creation. The world would have us believe that we are just another part of the universe. They would have us believe that man is nothing special, just another animal in the evolutionary food chain. Yet that is not what God says about us. We were created in His image [Genesis 1:27]. No created being, from heaven above to hell beneath, can claim that distinction. Man’s sin tarnished that image. God seeks to restore His image in which we were created. God is a blesser. He is a good benevolent God who desires to relate to and fellowship with man. We see a glimpse of this in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve [Genesis 1-3]. God wants to do good on man’s behalf, but man’s unbelief will not allow God’s benevolence [Matthew 13:58]. Holy God will not bless sin. If a person is living a lifestyle of sin, he can talk all he wants to about knowing God and God working in his life and blessing him, but the truth according to God is that this person does not even know God [1 John 1:5-10, 2:9, 4:8].
Man was created for relationship and fellowship with God. We were created to glorify Him as His image-bearers in creation. Man can never fulfill this created purpose in our sinful state. Only through God’s will, and the work of Jesus Christ in fulfilling God’s will, can you and I be restored to our original purpose in life. We are called to repentance and reconciliation with God so that His image in us can be restored, giving Him all the glory.