Growing up in the UK, we always heard a phrase the 3 ”R’s”. It was used in Education to direct everyone’s attention to the 3 basic elements of education - READING, wRiting and aRithmetic (what North America refers to as Math). It meant that this was the basic principle of teaching for any child. Yes, I know, it’s not spelt very well but the general idea caught on. If I told you that it was conceived in 1818 then it certainly stood the time test and it became to be understood with any conversation about education.
Isn’t that what every business wants to develop? a simple logo or phrase which immediately identifies what they stand for or what the make or what they sell. Take a look at the the ones here - How many stand out? How many do you know?
There are thousands, millions even. Everyone is looking for an image, one which helps them to get their own, personal, unique message over. Even the 3 “R’s” is not exclusive - REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, heard of that? In animal welfare, there is a principle to ensure that animals are not used in scientific testing with the REPLACE, REDUCE, REFINE message. Nothing is exclusive, nowadays.
Or is it?…
Jesus had a unique approach to everyone. ‘Unique’ means exactly what it means. No-one else has that method, no-one else is all loving, all forgiving, all compassion. At After Care, we are always trying to follow the direction which God gives us to support and help the offender. Jesus never showed a judgmental attitude to anyone. Invariably, it is the opinion of man which identifies a sinner. The bible tells us that ‘…all have sinned and fallen short…’ (Romans 3 v 23) Is that true? or do we have different versions of sin? If we allowed sin to be a minimum offence, we would all be guilty. Therefore, we allow for the little ones and start at higher up the list so that we won’t be included.
Isn’t that right?
We have been discussing the Life Recovery programme in this series of messages. There are many more Recovery initiatives - Celebrate Recovery, Addiction Recovery, Alcohol Recovery, 12 Step Recovery and many more. The intention is to see the person RECOVER. Recover what? - their life, their status, their piece of mind, their credibility, their marriage, their self-esteem, back to when they were enjoying life and could see hope in their lives.
Jesus touched many lives and they are documented. One such person was Zaccheus, a nice little children’s bible story about a little man who climbed up a tree to check this guy called Jesus out. There were throngs of people and he was small, he didn’t want to miss out. The result - and you can read about him in Luke Chapter 19. Jesus identified him, ate at his home, was willing to speak to him a despised tax collector. He cheated the people out of more taxes than he passed to the Romans but Jesus did not judge him. He recognised the compassion and forgiveness of Jesus and promised to give back half of his wealth and repay unto 4 times what he had cheated.
Step 9 of the Life Recovery programme concentrates on the repaying back and restoring what was taken. That brings recovery. The premise that it is based on is “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” The forgiveness of God is a powerful release. It becomes infectious. It spreads through our relationships with others, even those we have wronged, those who may not want to forgive us.
‘Recovery’ is the key word. You may ask “What do I need to recover from?” We know, there are always areas which we have left behind and are unresolved. When the Lord came into my life, I knew that there was nothing that He didn’t know about me but He didn’t judge me or accuse or ignore me. That is true love and the feeling is indescribable.
is our newsletter but it underlines our key objectives in our desire to see true recovery - that is the 3 “R’s” -
Releasing - from the burden of sin, from the stigma of a criminal record, from the stain of failure.
Refreshing - opening up the doors of freedom and allowing God to truly bring us Times of Refreshing (Acts 3 v 19-20)
Reconciling - bringing all the hurt and disappointment, the pain and suffering to a God who truly wants to love us and reconcile with us.
The life of an ex-offender can be riddled with guilt and despair. We are following the principle s which Jesus laid down for us all - that we can truly recover our life back to one of meaning and purpose. The decision now is when does the time of recovery start? Today is as good and any other.