Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 18 2020 - Galatians 6:1-18 – The work of restoration

In Galatians 6:1 Paul writes, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” The verb here translated in the NIV as “restore” is one which we first encounter in the New Testament in Matthew 4:21 (and the parallel in Mark 1:9), where we read of Jesus coming upon James and John while they were in their father’s boat “mending their nets”. They were removing all of the weeds and other items that had become entangled in the nets, mending any tears and generally restoring them to all that they were designed to be and making them fit for purpose. This is the same verb that Paul uses here.

As God enables us by his Spirit, we are to be engaged in God's business of restoring damaged lives. As a fisherman with his nets or as a skilled restorer of a great work of art, we are to assist in the removal of grime, the repairing of damage and the restoring of the person to all God that designed them to be, making them fit for the Master's use.

What do you do with an old tangled and torn fishing net? You can repair it or you can throw it out and look for a new one. Those whose lives God has touched may become mired again in sin and damaged and broken through use and misuse, but they are never beyond repair. God does not give up on us; we are not to give up on one another. Paul was not going to give up on these Christians from Galatia. We need to be about God’s business of repairing damaged lives. Oh, and by the way, just in case we get to thinking that we are the spiritual ones and others need our help, Paul adds, “If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (6:3). We also need healing – the restoring hand of God and restorative ministry of our brothers and sisters.

Paul reminds us that our faith and hope centre upon Christ crucified and risen. His death means that this fallen world with all its deceitful attractions has been crucified to us and we to it (6:14). His resurrection calls us into the life of the new creation (6:15). Christ crucified and risen is the foundation for God’s restoration project – his work of making all things new. We are not only part of this project, we have been engaged as members of the project team. We need to help and encourage one another to be free from the old and to live as those who have been restored in Christ. We need to work together for the restoration of the world.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood.

The world will not be transformed by more laws and better politicians – though we should be thankful for such interim measures. The world can be restored only by the power of its creator and by a people empowered by the Spirit of the crucified and risen Messiah.

Spend some time thinking about what it means for this present world with all its priorities and demands to have been crucified to you and you to it. What does it mean for you to boast in the cross of Christ? How are these truths going to shape the way you live in the days ahead? How are you going to play your part in God's great project of restoring creation?

Lord, get us on board with your great restoration project. Make your church a healing and restorative community, where broken lives are put back together, the wounded are healed and the sheep that have gone astray are brought back to the Good Shepherd. Restore your work of art and fulfil your purpose in and through us.

 

Peter Misselbrook