Restorations in the Family (based on 1 Corinthians 15)

Ever since I’ve started to oversee the OUTREACH portfolio (Witness & Evangelism, Christian Outreach & Social Concerns, Crisis Relief & Missions) in Wesley, my focus started to expand beyond the Next Gen ministries into different aspects of ecclesiology with a particular focus on Church, society and beyond. I began asking questions like “What is God doing in the world outside of the church? What is the church’s role in church and society, in particular, to Wesley? What is God calling us as a church to be and fulfil our place as salt and light to the nation(s)?” These are big questions that we want to start re-thinking about again, particularly in a post-pandemic era, where things are no longer the same.

As I started my interactions with the ground, God brought me through various experiences in my ministry: broken dating relationships, estranged marriages, sudden loss of loved ones, stressful parents/children overwhelmed with mental/physical challenges within the family and the list goes on. Well, it isn’t that these issues weren’t there in my ministries, but I’m surprised and concerned at how frequently my “Pastoral Care” section in my OneNote gets a new note for tracking. God, are you saying something?

We don’t like broken things, even more so talking about our own brokenness. But if you’ve been following our sermon series on 1 Corinthians, the Bible has a lot to say (both openly and honestly) about brokenness within the church and family. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is written to exhort, rebuke, encourage, correct leaders and the church on their brokenness, and Paul passionately urges them to be reconciled and restored. If we take a step back and have a look at the problems of the Corinthian Church again, we will see ourselves in it too.

ProblemSelf reflection
False Wisdom That causes Division (Chapters 1–4)Are we prideful and self-centred in our ways in both thought and behaviour?
Apathy towards Sin and Correction (Chapters 4–6)Do we take sin lightly, shun correction and rebuke?
Broken Relationships and Marriages (Chapter 7)Do we know how to honour God with our bodies and relationships as singles/married Christians?
Christian Conduct in Public (Chapters 8–10)Do our actions glorify God in public? Do others see us and praise God for us?
Relationships towards Each Other (Chapters 11–14)Do we reflect Christ’s Holy Love in our hearts through the way we relate to one another?
Bad Christian Theology (Chapter 15)Does our lifestyle show that the life to come is so much more precious and beneficial than things of this world and attract others to our hope in Christ too?

If you think the Church or Christians ought to be perfect, well yes and no! It ought to be, but in this broken world, it can never be until Christ returns, but… we are called to constantly perfecting ourselves in holiness (2 Cor 7:1). I definitely find myself in Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthian church, yet his heart in the harshest of the rebukes was not to destroy but to restore the church!

In the final address (Chapter 15) of the broken church, Apostle Paul actually wrote about a glorious restoration of the church, if they could humbly submit to the ways of the gospel as it was preached.

  1. Brokenness was redeemed for God’s glory (1 Cor 15:1–11)
    Paul’s passionate declaration of Christ’s broken body resurrected for all to see, displayed for all who see is the hope we have in Christ beyond death. The resurrected body on earth isn’t one that was perfect without scars, but one that was healed perfectly to tell of God’s goodness and mercy. The body was seen by many and many came to believe. Friends, the church may not be perfect, but we need to know our faith well, that the suffering of this present world is nothing compared to the joys of the life to come! Our scars and brokenness are meant to tell others of a greater life to come should one place their hope and trust in God.
    1. Death, sin and suffering are temporal and have been defeated (1 Cor 15:20–58)
      The unique hope of our Christian faith lies in this foundation that Christ has died, but He is Risen and WILL come again, because He has defeated the curse of sin (death) and ushered in a new world to come, for all who place their hope and trust in Jesus and live by His ways. This is the ultimate act of restoring humanity to God and only when we repent and follow Christ’s way will we be part of this beautiful story of restoration.
    1. Watch, stand fast in faith, be brave, be strong and do all things in love! (1 Cor 16:13–14)
      Apostle Paul closes with these final instructions to the church he so loved. He wanted them to be restored, yet to be faithful to the end! This pretty much sums up the posture we ought to be as Christians (Wesleyans) in the world we’re placed in. We need to be watchful of the ways of the world, of how it challenges our faith values. We need to be brave and strong, even more so in the way we love one another, both within the church and outside of the church. This is so important as we prepare ourselves also to be the church in the city, that light on a hill.

    As of writing this article, God surprised me with a couple who had decided to call it quits soon after getting married. You have no idea how much my heart grieved for them. After many months of prayers and counselling over what seemed hopeless (liken to a stubborn Corinth believer), God spoke to a heart, and I quote: “I’ve always had a certain expectation about what I wanted to achieve in life. But I’ve come to realise that pursuing certain ambitions can be frivolous (and very damaging for this marriage) and it will certainly not be helpful for me in the eyes of God. At the end of it all, I just felt the conviction to obey God.” This month, God did that miracle of restoration again and my heart beams with joy. Today the couple is together again, working hard to be watchful, standing fast in their faith to be brave and strong in their love for each other. They are not the first, and definitely will not be the last, of God’s restorative miracle to the family. God is still working in the hearts of many, calling them to Himself!

    It’s ok that we’re not perfect, but we should never forget that we have a perfect God and we’re called to be perfecting in holiness in all our ways! As we respond to God in obedience, repentance, and humility, He uses our brokenness to restore us for His glory. And the church exists for broken people to find hope in a God that is perfect in love and forgiveness. Until the age to come, I believe that brokenness will continue to exist in this broken world, but perfect hope remains: For in the obedient, repentant and humble heart, there’s a miracle of restoration awaiting. Unto the day when Christ returns, let’s watch, stand fast in faith, be brave, be strong and do all things in love! In all our witness and evangelism, in our Christian outreach and social concerns, as we partner God in crisis relief and missions, let’s show the world who God is and how Great His restorative love is for us all! All glory to God!

    Read also: What Love Looks Like in God’s Family; Never A Fractured Family in God’s Kingdom

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