Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 13 2013 - 2 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Lives put back together

Paul uses an interesting verb in his closing exhortations to the Corinthians. The single word is translated in the NIV as “aim for perfection” (2 Corinthians 13:11). Paul has used the cognate noun just two verses earlier when he writes, “our prayer for you is for your perfection” (13:9 NIV).

I say that this is an interesting verb, for we first meet it in the New Testament in Matthew 4:21 where we read of Jesus coming upon James and John while they were in their father’s boat “mending their nets”. This same verb is used there of their “mending” activity. 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. It is this verb and cognate noun that is used by Paul in his prayers for, and instruction of, the Christians at Corinth. This sense is reflected in the 2011 revision of the NIV which renders these verses, “our prayer is that you may be fully restored” (v.9) and “Strive for full restoration” (v.11).

God is at work in us, his people, mending broken lives. He has done this first by sending us his Son who was broken for us. Through his resurrection from the dead he has not only been restored but also glorified; “he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power” (13:4). So he has become a perfect Saviour; completely fitted to our need. Now by his Spirit he is mending our broken lives. He is removing all the rubbish that has become so entangled in the fabric of our lives that it has shaped who are and who we have become. He is mending the tears in our lives, tears caused by ourselves and by others; damage caused by the situations we have faced and disappointments we have suffered. He is putting our lives back together and making us again to be all that he intended us to be – making us like Christ. In all of this, he makes us fit for service – like mended fishing nets ready for the hands of the fisherman.

This is God’s purpose not for our lives only, but also for the world that he has made. God is in the restoration business. His purpose is to take this world that has been damaged and spoilt through human rebellion and to restore it in and through Christ that it may again reflect the purpose and glory of its creator; that it might be made new.

Let this be our prayer for ourselves – for our perfection; for us to be made whole again; made all that we were meant to be; made like Christ. Let this be the passion of our lives; the thing we aim for above all else. Let this also be our prayer for one another, prayer that shapes our attitudes towards others and our interactions with them; “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (13:11). Let this be our prayer for our broken world and the vision that shapes our work in the world that we might be menders rather than destroyers; co-workers with God in bringing about his Shalom.

Lord, mend my life: remove the rubbish; repair the damaged areas; heal the hurts. Make me like Jesus. Make me fit for your use. Use me in the work of your kingdom; enable me to touch the lives of others and to bring healing and restoration to the glory of your name.

Peter Misselbrook