Restoration as a gospel priority
Aim for restoration. 2 Corinthians 13:11
“Aim for restoration” was highly relevant to this community in Corinth. They were broken at multiple levels. They were making progress, but there was much good still to accomplish. So, “aim for restoration” was ideal as an all-encompassing intention. For any gospel-defined church, then or now, restoration is an obvious priority.
But is it obvious? Or, is it obvious to us today? Few churches and movements, it seems, are free from relational strains and fractures. A settled wholeness seems rare. But I wonder if restoration is the priority it deserves to be.
Earlier in 2 Corinthians Paul defined his life work as “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). He defined the gospel as “the message of reconciliation” (verse 19). That is why he did not say, “We have moments of reconciliation now and then.” No, he saw his calling as “the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, “Reconciliation is all I do. It’s how I roll. It isn’t a preference. It is a gospel necessity, an obvious one.”
I wonder how many of our churches and movements can honestly say, with the apostle, “Reconciliation is our ministry, because it is our message. We have no higher priority. We want to be living proof of the gospel. This is obvious to us.”
Aiming for restoration deserves to be a matter of prayer and priority in 2014 for every gospel-defined church and ministry. Settling for the status quo – where is that in the gospel? We might not succeed in renewing shalom with everyone (Romans 12:18). Some people will always be unsatisfiable. But have we tried? To whatever extent God gives success, we will be more ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we all long for, for the salvation of many others around us.
What wonderful things might the Lord do for us all in 2014, if we allow the gospel of reconciliation to define, or perhaps redefine, our ministry priorities?