The Ministry of Restoration
All we have to do is look around to see brokenness all around us. It’s the reality of the world we live in. But for as much brokenness that exists, we see just as many examples of God’s restoration. We can find hope in the fact that our brokenness isn’t the end of our story.
Each Story Is Different
Ryan did what he always did; he smoked some crystal meth. Then Ryan did what he frequently did: he shot up some heroin. Then Ryan did what he had never done before: he had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital.
When Alicia was 3-years-old, her grandfather began sexually abusing her. Sexual abuse will mess a person up, especially in the way they think about and perceive sex. It would mess anyone up, but Alicia found herself especially broken after being victimized at such a tender age.
Alicia’s exposure to abusive sex at such a vulnerable age caused her a great deal of confusion. She eventually discovered the world of pornography. Not long after that, she found herself addicted to porn.
Steve started drinking when he was about 8-years-old. He turned to drugs soon after. It went from recreationally using drugs for fun and entertainment to being consumed by the need to escape and get through each day. This desperation is also known as addiction.
Kerra was a stripper, a prostitute, and sometimes, even a porn-star. But, she also was addicted to crystal meth, and one day Kerra took meth before she started driving. Kerra wrecked her car, and when she got to the hospital, she was barely alive.
We All Have Problems
These stories barely scratch the surface of those blinded by addiction. For example, Denise had an eating disorder. Scott was addicted to cocaine, Mike to pornography, Sarah to meth. Each story is a little different, but the dependence on a dysfunctional habit is the same.
What Do You Do? What do people with this kind of personal struggle do?
To get more personal, what do you do with your issues? Yours may not be as drastic and socially unacceptable as heroin or crystal meth, but we all have problems that can interfere with our functioning. What do we do with them?
Restoring Messed Up People
I don’t know what you’re doing with your struggles, but I can tell you what Ryan, Alicia, Steve, Kerra and the other people I mentioned did. They all went to Jesus. Jesus is in the business of restoring messed up people. In the Bible, we see Jesus transform the lives of prostitutes and tax collectors and bumbling disciples who he turns into brave apostles.
Jesus is not just someone who lived a long time ago. He’s someone who lives now. Restoring people is not just something that happened. It’s something that happens. All of those people turned to Jesus, and Jesus turned their lives inside out. He restored their soul, and the transformation that started in their hearts soon became pervasive. Their entire lives changed.
I love that. I find it so encouraging because I know Ryan and Alicia and Steve. And I know that if Jesus can set them free from their addictions, he can set me free. If Jesus can change them, he can undoubtedly transform me.
Helping Others Find Healing
This year at our church we started a recovery ministry. Here in Las Vegas, so many people are struggling with crippling addictions, we wanted to offer something that could help.
You might think you know what’s coming next. That I’m about to say, Ryan, Alicia, Steve, Kerra, Denise, Scott, Mike, and Sarah are all people who have found freedom from their addictions through us starting our recovery ministry.
Well, that’s not what I’m going to say.
They are the people who started and lead our recovery ministry. God helped each of them to break free of their addictions in the past. They also all realized that finding restoration means you have to help others find healing.
God Chose The Weak and Despised
God doesn’t restore us so we can be selfish. God always calls us to be selfless, to reach out to others, to be Jesus to those who are hurting and hopeless and stuck in sin. It reminds me of some Bible verses Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us the wisdom of God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” That no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us the wisdom of God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30)
My friends were not very impressive by human standards, but God chooses the weak, the despised, and the messed-up addicts. They have found redemption in their lives.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
The Ministry Of Restoration
My friends have new life in Christ. God has reconciled them and prepared them for the ministry of reconciliation. They’ve found healing, and God’s given them the ministry of restoration.
This is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)
My friends have become servants of Christ. A path of healing and freedom from addiction has marked their lives. The best part is that they are proving faithful to it by sharing it with others.
What Will You Do?
What my friends have experienced and are doing, is the result that we should all strive to accomplish. Is it what you’re experiencing? Is it what you’re doing?
The recovery ministry at our church is called Restore. Why? Because we all need the hope of restoration, and because God is a God of restoration.
Check out Vince’s new book, “Restore: Break Out Of Your Past and Into God’s Future.” to learn more about how God can restore you and give you a ministry of restoration.
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