In the previous blog we discussed the Biblical principle of RESTORATION as a primary component of successful reentry and transition. The conviction was expressed that every mature Christian is called to the work of restoring the fallen. It is hard work, time consuming and the stronger, healthy Christian who answers the call to link hearts with a fallen, broken soul will face criticism. Yet, this is one of the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. Those of us who have tasted eternal forgiveness are commanded to show forgiveness in His Name. In the next blog I'll make a Biblical/theological case for this precept. For now, however, let's examine some of the practical steps in the restoration process.
THE ONE PROVIDING RESTORATION
Though every personal story is unique, there are common elements that are to be observed in successful restoration of a fallen one. In this blog we'll focus on a fallen Christian. Unbelievers who live in sin are simply living out their nature. We expect them to act out evil. When a professing Christian sins and that sin is made public, however, the "church" (Christians), must make a different response, one based on clear teaching of Scripture rather than cultural norms.
The one called to be proactively engaged in the restoration of a fallen believer must engage in the following battle plan:
- Humility – a frank, gut-wrenching bowing of the soul before a holy God. One simply cannot engage in the forgiveness and restoration of others without a transparent acknowledgement of the unmerited, undeserved grace and mercy he has himself received at the hands of a loving God. Any semblance of entitlement must be obliterated. If we walk in the glow of God's mercy and grace, we do so at His sovereign pleasure. They are God's gift, "not of works" as the Apostle Paul declares. When Isaiah was privileged to catch a glimpse of the holy God in His majesty, splendor and glory, he did not dance a jig or exclaim "Hey Dude!" No; he fell on his face with an overwhelming sense of his own sin in the presence of a perfect God. The "restorer" must begin here in total humility.
- Confession and Repentance – the act of cleansing one's own soul of any hidden or lingering personal sin. The Holy Spirit will respond quickly when one asks these two questions in prayer: (1) Have I done the last thing God told me to do? And, (2) Have I stopped doing the last thing God told me to stop doing? One cannot move forward in restoration until one's heart and hands are clean.
- Determined Obedience – a commitment to honor God with quick obedience . . . regardless of His orders. Obedience looks like this in the form of prayer: "Lord, the answer of my life is "YES". Now, what is your question?'
- Discernment – a heightened spiritual sensitivity as the Lord leads one to that fallen person God is preparing for the restorer's ministry. If you have been called to this ministry you must acknowledge that not every fallen Christian is your individual assignment in restoration. Rather, God in His own providence will lead you to the one he desires to love through you. Listen carefully, keep your spiritual eyes open and He will lead you to a pairing of His own design. When that happens, each of you will know it as God begins a special bond that will make the beginning of restoration possible.
- Armor Up! – you are entering proactive spiritual warfare. You are no longer a spectator; you are walking with determination onto the battlefield. Conflict awaits. Blood will be spilled. Pain of every sort (physical, psychological, spiritual) will be commonplace. Best not to step onto this battlefield without the "whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11-18). Take note: there is a breastplate but no backplate. There is no protection for those who run from battle. Yet, the "sword" God will place in your hands has transformed millions of lives over the centuries. Wield it well.
- Move Forward With Courage – God has not given you a spirit of fear. Fear is a tactic of the enemy. Take the enemy by the hand and lead him on a tour of Calvary. Remind him he has already lost the battle. Tell him to go back to hell and move forward with purpose as you wrap your heart around that fallen Christian so desperate for a word of hope. Your acts and words of tenderness and kindness will soon drown out even the loudest taunts of the Evil One as he loses his grip on this precious child of the King. Our Advocate has already defeated the Accuser. Convey that every day to your newly assigned friend.
Restoration is a process, not an event. Thus, this blog will pick up next time with specific Biblical references and principles to shore up those of you being called to the vital ministry of restoration. Meanwhile, pray for those of us at Inmate Ministry Resources as we engage in this battle daily. Prayerfully consider becoming a PrayerPal or partner with us financially. Just as Aaron and Hur did for Moses long ago, hold up our arms so the battle may go on.