Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Can justice lead to restoration? By Bruce Millar

When one of my children comes to me with a grievance against the other I want justice to lead to the restoration of their relationship. In our house the offender is often given time to cool down and think about what they have done before they offer an apology (time out).

I saw this played out in the life of Paul the apostle. Paul (who was known as Saul before he became a Christian) had been trying to stamp out the early church by killing and imprisoning its followers. The account in the book of Acts chapter nine, describes how Jesus (post-resurrection) speaks audibly to Paul, blinding him with a bright light and asking him why he was fighting against him. Paul's blindness lasted for three days, which gave him time to think about what Jesus had said and what he had been doing.

Justice in many people's eyes should have been a lightning strike rather than a bright light! (Somehow I grew up with the notion that God was into lightning strikes. . . Not sure where that came from!)

Now that Jesus had Paul in 'time out' he called a local Christian, Annanias, to come and pray for him and restore his sight! 

I would imagine Annanias could have feared for his life but maybe he wasn't keen on restoration; maybe he wanted Paul to pay for what he had done? He was perplexed enough to double check with Jesus that he really knew what Paul had been up to! Jesus acknowledged Ananias's concerns by saying that through becoming a Christian Paul would indeed suffer much but still told him to restore Paul! Anannias did go; prayed for Paul and even managed to call him brother! Wow!

I think God is into restoration not lightning strikes. There are still consequences for our actions but He still seeks to restore us and others into relationship with Him. This account of Paul illustrates to me God's heart to restore, not wipe us out. There are still curly 'what if?' questions such as what if people don't want to be restored?

Lightning strikes are so much cleaner and easier, arent they? Restoration can be painful and messy... but that's life isnt it? I'm certainly glad God chose (and chooses) to restore me!


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