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Restoration in a Transformational Community 4: Is Restoration Worth the Trouble?

Transformational churches are full of people who are just as messy as those who attend churches that teach reformational life. So what do you do with people who have messed up . . . again? Or maybe are at the point of their lives when you would think they should know better, should be more spiritual, should demonstrate more maturity? Or maybe everyone’s question is, “How did he or she hide their sin so shockingly long from us?” Can these believers ever come back? And if they do come back, can they come back into your church?

Getting rid of the evidence of failure is such a temptation for churches. This is so because we tend to personalize people’s sin failure. Especially if the sin is very public (hits the newspaper, airwaves or the internet). We feel betrayed and maybe a little angry… or a lot angry. So statements are made, such as “This person has hurt the testimony of Jesus,” (which is our code for saying they have embarrassed us). Many times the choice of the church is to ask the sinner to step away from the faith community and maybe not come back until he or she gets fixed, if at all. But this is backwards. Jesus’ testimony is not hurt by someone’s sin failure as much as it is when we deny his mercy and grace at work among us by failing to seek to restore such people. That is far more serious because we have failed to love as Jesus loves.

A clear commitment to restoration keeps the transformational church from kicking people to the curb. Churches that have a transformational culture take Galatians 6:1-2 seriously and value fellow believers so much that their spiritual demise has to be challenged. You should care for each other enough to want to stop someone from going to destruction. I know when I see people strolling down the path toward an addiction that I lived with in the past, I want to stop them cold if I can.

This is what the body does. In this passage, I am pretty sure that Paul is focused on sin which has caught and is already controlling a fellow believer in such a way that it is leading to personal destruction as well as broken relationship with God and his or her church family. To engage in restoration means pursuing people who we are to love in the way Jesus loves them—this is the actual meaning of “so fulfill the law of Christ,” in this passage.

Steve Smith