Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Road To Restoration

I have written this post 3 times now. Each time I see what I have written and delete it. I'm so frustrated with what is being thrown around about this wonderful word 'Restoration.'

We are in the midst of a restoring war. We argue and squabble about restoring this man or that man.

We are now restoring in public so everyone supposedly knows what is going on. All the sins will be aired. We even get to send in our hard earned money to fund this process.

We are restoring for YOUR EDIFICATION. We are told that this circus is to encourage us, build us up.

We stand on each side of a river with the sinner in the middle and throw mud balls at each other about the restoration process. One one side we have the (purportedly) side of Grace. The other side that of (again purportedly) a Pharisaical spirit. Say ONE word and you are thrown to one side or the other and handed a mud ball to join in the fun.

I know that no one has asked me what I think. But this is my blog so if you are reading you are going to hear what I think.

I think everyone needs to put down their mud. I think we need to go and get the man out of the middle of the river and take him away from all of the circus. He can't and won't be restored while he is standing there. It was the center stage in the circus that helped to create the problem in the first place. In the place of quiet where everything is stripped away and nothing is promised he will find a place of true restoration.

There was a man once named Saul that needed restoration. He was a murderer. I think he disappeared for quite a few years. He somehow found the heart of the Father there. He never had the same stage as he had before. But everyone can agree that he was restored.

There was a woman once that needed restoration. Her name was Barbara. She abused others in the Body. She has gone through a process of about 2 years of what I would call restoration. She won't have the same position as before. Her restoration was TO SOMEONE not to a place or office or a gift.

And therein is what I think everyone is missing. We are not to see the end of restoration as an end of being back at the same place where we started. Sometimes we mess up enough that it physically can't happen. How can you be restored to a wife when you have married another? How can you be restored to a ministry when you destroyed it on your way out. How can you be restored to being fake when everyone now knows who you really are?

The restoration process is to restore our HEART back to the One who loves us. If our goal is to restore a person back to where they started he will forever remain unchanged. If we have any goal other than to restore the heart - to the Father - we will miss our mark entirely.


Alex Blanton said...

Bary - I think I have to agree with you. I feel it is very sad that many of us feel like we need to invalidate the person in order to invalidate the behavior, rather than truly grieving for where he is at (and the saddest of all being that he may still be stuck in the illusion).

I was just talking about this to a friend yesterday about how a short time ago Father had helped me to come to the realization that true spiritual gifting and the person are inseparable. Coming out of a largely Charismatic tradition, this is not always the case. All too often, the person is only as important to God/Church/the Kingdom/whatever as they are providing a valuable "gift" or service to the institution. Such an emphasis is put on the person performing to their "full potential" of their so-called "spiritual" gifts, that the person ends up getting de-humanized in the process. (C.S. Lewis, for one, wrote how he felt that anything that de-humanizes the person is ultimately hellish in nature. Chew on that ... )

In any event, the Lord really spoke to me that what is important to Him is not about one's ministry, or even a one's gifts as a platform for ministry. It is the person - who they are - that is the true gift to the body of Christ. I think it is so important for us all to embrace this, not only for ourselves, but in how we engage others. For until we do, we will fail to engage people for who they are, and only see them as tools for some kingdom enterprise. If so, we will never be willing to commit to meaningful relationships that are walking together towards true healing of the whole person, under God's grace.

We have to let go of this task-oriented or role-specific approach to ministry. God's mission is not to develop people's gifts or roles in the Body. People are the gifts are the ministry. He is shaping, healing people into wholeness so they can discover what it means to be His child, and a child that is a part of a vast family.

Thanks ...

Alex Blanton said...

oops - i mean to call you Barb there! sorry! :-P

Jeff McQ said...

This was one of the most articulate rants I have read in a long time. Well said, Barb.

searching said...

I love your definition of restoration. It bears witness with my heart of what restoration truly is.

Mary said...

Being restored to Someone......wow. That is what has been missing.

What is often touted as restoration has always bothered me, but I couldn't articulate why. Thanks for putting it into words.

Anonymous said...

Articulated well. One more specific point to add: The chance to be restored to wife is now over, but what about being a parent to your children? How about moving to the town your children live, get a real job and be a great father to them for the next 10 years or so of their life? Doesn't God think that is more important that getting back your ministry by living away from your children?
Coming out of a sheparding/controlling/church first situation, i see how the family is put to the bottom of the list of priorties and suffers much damage.
so yes, restoration to someone, not a place or office or gift. that someone should be a healthy parent first!

krista said...

hear, hear! excellently said barb!!

Valerie in CA said...

I agree 100% and am saddened by the continuing circus of the 'public restoration.' But I would also submit that the flow goes something like this: repentance, asking for forgiveness, being restored (often slowly) to the ones who have been offended. So yes, restored back to God first and foremost. But a family, a home church, a home town, and a team of fellow ministers/employees were also offended and betrayed (in addition to 'the public'). It is for them to forgive, but a true restoration would also involve being restored back to them. The wife option has already been torpedoed, but what about everyone else? I think the public should be last on the list, not the first.

As for me, I have forgiven but do not want to be restored to him. My prerogative. I pray that he is restored to the God of the Bible and that he is awakened to the Bible of that God.

As for you, I would submit that you may be better suited now to church leadership than ever before. Maybe you can't be restored to your former church, but your blog is a ministry to many and God has brought you through all this for many reasons.

Besides, your comparison may not be quite apt. When families are rife with abuse, not only do the adults abuse, but the children turn on eachother. When children leave abusive families and get healing, they need to go back to their siblings and apologize and seek forgiveness and restoration. But the ultimate ownership for the sin belongs with the adults who spawned the sick culture. You have been restored to God, but how can you go back to a sick culture and ask for forgiveness when they probably view your biggest betrayal is the leaving you did?

I'm preaching to myself here, as my husband and I have walked a similar road as you over the last year, in the aftermath of the public figure that we are talking about. The people at our former church are hurt because we left; not because we woke up to the heresy and toxic culture of the church. We apologized profusely and tearfully during our exit, but for us to be restored to them would be for us to submit back to the culture, and that simply isn't possible.

Barb said...

Valarie, you said, "how can you go back to a sick culture and ask for forgiveness when they probably view your biggest betrayal is the leaving you did?"

You are so right. To be restored to them would be linked to coming under their government and covering. That just can't happen. The only restoration I have truly seen is when others have also walked out and then we can be together again.

I'm sorry for the hurt you have endured this year. Truly sorry.

May I ask what you are doing presently?

Valerie in CA said...

Thank you Barb. We are waiting, learning, healing. My husband was on paid staff so leaving meant unemployment. It damaged us financially and emotionally, including our children. He since has found work in a ministry-related but not church-related job. In due time we will enter back into full time ministry because pastoring is what we're called to. For a while I guess we were 'done' with church but we've had too many great experiences prior to this that woo us back. Sure, it will look different this time, but I think that is part of God's providence and plan in all this. The amount of learning and growth and repentance that we've experienced this last year has been worth it, despite the pain. Heresy and persecution are what birth vitality in the church; we have learned so much and are better equipped than ever before. I couldn't have said that even a couple of months ago, this has definitely been a process.

You are so right about fellowship with others who have also left. Our community is filled with four times as many people who have left than those who are still in. Its a cycle of splits and extremism that has been playing out for a long time, at least since Toronto.

That's all I can say right now about us, I hesitate to say more because we're still in process...

Barb said...

Valerie, hearing you speak is like hearing much of my own voice just a few years ago. I'm so sorry. I too had kids really damaged by the whole thing. Some are still fighting their way out trying to still believe in God but wondering what is true and what isn't.
If you ever want to write off-line you are welcome to contact me at formerleader (at) hotmail (dot) com
Blessings on the process.