Restoring Broken Things

16For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel:
After those days, says the Lord,
I will put my laws in their hearts,
And will inscribe them upon their minds. 17Because their deeds of unrighteousness and their sins
I will not remember any more. [Jeremiah 31:33,34] 18And where there is forgiveness of these sins, there is no more offering for sins.

19Now then, brethren, we have boldness to go into the holiest place through the blood of Jesus, 20which he placed as a living way through the curtain, not previously available, which is his flesh. 21Jesus is also a great priest over the household of God. 22So let’s come with true hearts and full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from bad conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. — Hebrews 10:16-22 (TFBV)

I know it may be a shock to those who know how coordinated and graceful I am now (DON’T LAUGH!), but when I was a child I would occasionally break something. Now my mother was not excessively concerned with material things, so I wasn’t afraid. Mostly I was disappointed. Something pretty or useful was now broken. I would always hope it could be restored, glued together, made to look like it was before. Sometimes restoration was possible. Sometimes it wasn’t. That’s the reality of human life.

At times, we’re less concerned with broken people than we are with broken things. Most of the people who are no longer part of our churches are on the outside not because they got convinced that God didn’t exist, or that the church was completely wrong. They’re outside because they’ve been hurt—broken if you will.

If we look at a broken piece of art, we may think of glue and careful reconstruction. Too often when we look at people, we think of punishment, revenge, and expulsion.

In Jeremiah’s day, that was the way a covenant worked. A king, such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, would conquer a small country and impose a treaty on them. If the king violated it, as the kings of Judah did repeatedly, he would come again with his army and remove, and possibly execute the king who had rebelled along with many of his subjects. There was no restoration.

But Jeremiah tells us that God works differently. Where human beings look at a person who has gone astray and think of how to discard them, lock them away, keep them from doing any more damage, perhaps even discard them in that ultimate way, by killing them, God looks at how they can be restored. Where we live in fear that a “forgiven” person will sin again, God is willing to take a chance.

Do you really hear what this message of the new covenant means? We say it every day: “New Testament.” We live under a new covenant, a new way of working with people. Too often we take it for granted.

What does this new covenant mean? It means that God looked at you and me, and even though we were broken, damaged goods, and a danger to ourselves and others he said, “Come, let’s try again. I’m going to make a new covenant.” God took a chance on each one of us.

I said we take it for granted too often. But it is granted—given by grace. Think about that passover meal: This is my body which is given for you (Luke 22:19, emphasis mine).

During this week as we anticipate the gift God has given us, apply that gift to others as well. When you look at someone who seems broken, and you ask yourself whether they can ever be restored, try the answer Jesus gave. He took a chance on you and me. He is a God who restores broken people!

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