All humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our sin has broken our relationship with God and others. Genesis 4 gives an account of Adam and Eve’s son, Cain, killing his brother, Abel. Since the time sin entered the world, injustices have been present, even destroying the sacredness of life.
Every single one of us needs restoration with God and people. For those relationships to be redeemed, healed, and made whole again. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection simultaneously satisfies God’s just wrath toward sin while also restoring our relationship with God and people.
Think about your own life for a moment. In what ways do you need restoration? What relationships in your life need to be restored? How has God restored and redeemed your life? Understanding our own need for restoration in Jesus fosters humility and produces within us compassion and mercy for others. And the more we can understand how God has restored our own lives, the more it will connect us to others as we all share this great need of restoration and reconciliation with God.
Out of His great love for us, God has redeemed us so we might have a restored relationship with Him. But it doesn’t stop there. Because we have been restored in Him, God has called us to take His message of restoration and redemption to others. It goes beyond us. For God’s glory and His kingdom. We are the light of the world so that others might see our restoration and give glory to our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:14–16). The gospel that transforms us is the kindness, compassion, and justice of God making us right with Him so we might be able to tell this good news to others.
Because God has restored, redeemed, and reconciled us to Himself, He now calls us to a ministry of reconciliation. A life of internal and external restoration. We’re restored to restore. Second Corinthians 5:17–21 says:
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God has given us, followers of Christ, the ministry of reconciliation. This is our call. Our purpose. To show others how God has restored our own lives and to bring His power of reconciliation to the world. A huge part of this is fighting for justice. For the image of God to be recognized, protected, and valued in every human. To fight for the dignity of every human created in the image of God.
At the heart of this call are relationships. We can love others well because Christ has loved us first (1 John 4:19). We can forgive one another because God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).
To live out this ministry of reconciliation, we must be aware of our own need for restoration with God, as well as all of humanity’s need for restoration with God. He is calling us to restore the image of God stamped on every human. Daily, people are committing injustices by ignoring the image of God within every human and attempting to dehumanize, devalue, and strip away one’s God-given dignity and worth. We must first ask ourselves how we have contributed to these injustices, repent, and restore the relationship, because all of us in word or deed have treated others with injustice at some point.
Second, we are aware of the fact that many of you reading this have personally experienced horrific injustices. We are deeply grieved by this reality and want to come alongside you the best way we can. We pray that God’s grace, comfort, and hope would continue to heal your heart, soul, and mind.
Third, we are aware of the fact that the church has committed injustices throughout history and still presently. Since imperfect humans run the church, this is not surprising; but it does not excuse the atrocity. The fact that the church, God’s beloved community, has at times supported, allowed, and dismissed injustice is absolutely devastating. Collectively, we must repent and work hard to make the wrongs right and to bring God’s restoration to the world. As His people we ought to be the first to try to make these things right for those around us and those to come.
The mind-set that produces injustice is an “I’m better than you” mentality, which breeds power, superiority, and division. This goes directly against the message of Ephesians 4:1–6, where God calls us to pursue unity by treating one another with kindness while remembering that we are all one in Christ. Not honoring the image of God imprinted on every human is incredibly damaging; it’s the exact opposite of the unity God calls us to in Him. We are family, kin, brothers and sisters, heirs to Christ—every last one of us. Let’s live out the freedom we’ve been given, and work to set others free by the power of God! Throughout this study, we will see how Jesus embodies restoration, and how He calls us to the same even in our brokenness.