Picking up the pieces: the ministry of restoration
Like natural earthquakes, moral earthquakes don’t just happen! They, too, are preceded by secret faults; little cracks in character below the surface that eventually erupt into moral earthquakes. Of all the entities in the world, the church has the greatest opportunity in our culture to be about the ministry of restoration. It is never too late for a new beginning.
What would happen if the church today began to be known as a place of restoration, where those who are down could get up, where those are out could get in? What would happen if the church became a place of confirmation and not a place of condemnation? Men and women with wounded hearts and homes would flock to our places of worship and find hope and healing.
In the letter to the Galatians, the great apostle gives three succinct steps to follow in the ministry of restoration. What are we to do with our fallen friends?
I. We are to hunt them up! (v. 1)
Some of us are better at simply writing them off. Or, we often wait for the fallen one to come back to us. But scripture tells us we are to be the initiators, we are to hunt them up. The church needs to get past the false assumption that the one who has fallen will initiate the restoration. Often, these individuals harbor a sense of guilt and shame which continues to drive them farther from hope and help. It is our task to hunt them up.
II. We are to help them up! (v. 1b)
We are to “restore” (katartizo) such a one. This same Greek word is translated in Mark 4:21 as “mending” nets. It also appears in 1 Corinthians 1:10 speaking of bones that are perfectly joined together. It is a medical term with the idea of putting a broken bone back in place so that it can be mended and become useful again. Orthopedics do not heal. They simply put broken bones in place, sometimes with pins. Then, God does the healing and it takes several weeks to heal a broken bone.
This is the church’s job. We cannot heal broken homes and hearts, much less wounded lives. But we can hunt them up and help them up by helping them put things in order so that God can heal their hearts and “restore” them to usefulness.
III. We are to hold them up! (v. 2)
It is not enough to simply hunt them up and help them up; we must also hold them up. In the words of Paul, bear one another’s burdens. Some burdens are too heavy to carry alone. In fact, there are some burdens that are not made to be borne alone. In the family of God we need each other.
If we are going to reach our world we need to realize it is made up of men and women who are hurting and broken. We, the church, are the ones who are called upon to take the initiative in restoration. We are to hunt them up, help them up, and then hold them up until they have found a new beginning.
There is a larger picture at play here. You were the one who was overtaken in a trespass (Galatians 6:1). What did the Lord Jesus do with you? Did He wait for you to come crawling back in shame and guilt so He could say, “I told you so?” No. What did He do? He hunted you up. He said, I came to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). Then, He helped you up. He “restored” you to Himself. And, He continues to hold you up. It is never too late for a new beginning.