A Theology of Cultural Engagement (Restoration)

This post is a part of the series I’m doing on A Theology of Cultural Engagement. Today’s post will focus on the role of restoration in cultural integration.

Spend any time analyzing the world we live in today and it becomes so apparent we live in a broken and hurting world. People are amazingly talented at masking this hurt and pain, especially in America, but the endless stories of death and destruction on the evening news says all that needs to be said about the state of our world.

Rather than engaging this brokenness with care and hope, Christians are known to retreat to their churches to worship and judge the world outside those church walls.

One thing we learn from Jesus’ earthly ministry was that he focused so much of his time on bringing hope and restoration to people with broken lives. We see this with the woman at the well in John 4, the man with leprosy in Matthew 8, the woman caught in adultery in John 8, the Roman centurion in Luke 7, and with Zacchaeus in Luke 19. And really I could highlight many other situations as well. Jesus had engaged in their lives to restore them. In some cases this was a spiritual restoration, in others it was a physical restoration that carried a spiritual meaning. Churches are well known for caring about the spiritual needs of people, but few churches have been involved in restoring the physical needs of people.

Christians are called to take the mantle from Jesus to continue the act of restoring a broken world. The difficulty of restoring this world is the encounter we have with sin, because we will have to fight the urge to correct it. Paul, throughout his ministry in Asia Minor, engaged with unredeemed people stuck in sinful patterns of life. “He wasn’t there to close the deal and lead everyone in the sinner’s prayer, and he didn’t condemn them all to hell…Paul trusted God’s ability to fulfill his will in his own timing” (Gabe Lyons describing Paul’s ministry).

When it comes to cultural restoration I think of my friends at The Mentoring Project and the work they are doing to restore the lives of fatherless boys through mentoring. John Sowers, the President of The Mentoring Project, would often say to me: “How can we not do something?”

(I also came across this interesting post on Mr. Rogers being a restorer)

This is truly what restoration is all about: recognizing a brokenness and need in our world and doing something to restore it.

As restorers of today’s world we have the opportunity to bring hope to people and situations that are completely broken.

How have you seen Christians involved in the restoration of our world?

(Next post: Creation)