A Pattern of Restoration (7)
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9.3-5
The way it’s supposed to be
God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He came not to condemn the world, but to save it. He came to proclaim and bring near the Kingdom of God, and to launch that Kingdom in the Person of the Holy Spirit, upon His ascension to the right hand of the Father. And He came to reconcile the world, and everything in it, to God the Father, that the goodness God intended for the world when He created it might once again be seen and abound, and the earth might be filled with knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
Throughout the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus showed us the way things are supposed to be. Both by His teaching and works, Jesus pointed toward the restoration of all things – the salvation of men and the renewal of culture and creation. In working to restore people to wholeness – and through them the groaning and travailing world – Jesus “lit” the way for His followers to do all things to the glory of God. He explained that God will be glorified in the good works we do – works that restore the reconciled world to a greater measure of God’s original intent – and that we must devote ourselves to this work “while it is day”.
Jesus shows us that following Him means working at the ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us. Jesus was given the ministry of reconciliation to defeat and bind the devil, take away the sins of the world, inaugurate the Kingdom, and begin calling His elect to salvation and building His Church. The ministry of reconciliation that has been given to us builds on the work of Jesus as we make disciples, build the Church, seek and advance the rule of King Jesus on earth as it is in heaven, and bring the liberating power of God’s Law to bear on all aspects of life in the world.
By observing Jesus through the lens of restoration, we can see more clearly what God intends for us. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation in the form of restoring the reconciled world by working as agents of grace and truth through whom Jesus is making all things new.
Jesus and the work of restoration
I can only briefly summarize Jesus’ approach to the work of restoration by a quick overview of this very familiar story of His healing the man born blind. Let’s notice seven different facets of the work of restoration as we see it here.
Observe and analyze: What appeared to the disciples to be a hopeless situation, the consequence of sin, was really an opportunity for God to work through His people. We must not dwell on causes or blame in such situations, but should rather determine to carry out our work of restoring the reconciled world, however the situation may require.
Envision the work of God: What would be the outcome of a work God might do in this situation? Get this clear in your mind, then commit your vision to the Lord, and begin considering what work is required of you.
Take the initiative: Don't wait to be asked. Move ahead, one step at a time, without fanfare or doubt. Touch someone with the grace of God, or introduce some new measure or component that might bring restoration.
Explain the next steps: People have to take responsibility if restoration is to be realized; and we must show them what to do. Make sure their next steps are within the scope of their power.
Follow-up as needed: Be available to assist with follow-through. Not everyone will welcome change right away. Change may be slow in coming, so we’ll need to be willing to cultivate change so that restoration can proceed.
Focus within: Look for the opportunity provided by restoration to open a fissure for light to shine into the souls of those who are benefitting from the change. Seek them out and take a new initiative for the Gospel.
Call to repentance and faith: Use the opportunity of restoration to address the larger issue of salvation and eternal life. Preach the Gospel and call people to repentance and faith.
Greater works than these
Incredibly, Jesus promised His followers that they would do greater works of reconciliation and restoration than even He was able to do during His limited stay on earth (Jn. 14.12). We must embrace the calling to work while it is day to restore the reconciled world to God.
The work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work. We are continuously being called to the Kingdom and glory of God, to walk in the light as He is in the light (1 Thess. 2.12; Eph. 5.8-11). Our work of restoration brings light into the darkness – truth against error, healing and restoration, goodness, righteousness, peace, love, and kindness, against the narcissism, degradation, and abuse of our unbelieving age.
This is work, but it is the work of the Spirit in us, Whom we engage as we move toward the work of the light of Christ and His Kingdom. All work requires thought, exertion, skill, perseverance, assessment, and an overall plan. As long as we are awake, we are either working or resting from work or preparing for work, these latter two overlapping at times. We can only do the work of the Lord according to His Word, by His Spirit, and unto His glory. And we must at all times remember that we have been redeemed for good works and should be ready and zealous for them at all times.
The work of restoring the reconciled world is thus always before us. Every day brings opportunities for following in the footsteps of Jesus and bringing His rule and power to bear on all aspects of life in our world. God has given us the time of our lives for the ministry of reconciliation, so that all our work will go toward restoring the reconciled world, bringing the light of Jesus into the darkness of our fallen age, and returning as much as possible of our God-loved world to the way it’s supposed to be.
1. How many different ways can you see Jesus modeled the work of restoration in His ministry?
2. What do we mean by saying, “The work we’ve been given to do is greater than the job at which we work”?
3. You have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). What can you do to think more with the mind of Christ about the work of restoration?
Next Steps – Preparation: Pray for the day ahead through the lens of restoration. How will Jesus use you today to restore the reconciled world?
T. M. Moore
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This is part 3 in the series, Restoring the Reconciled World. All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.