Restoration, whether on a personal or corporate level, is a conflicted process; everyone wants to receive it but few desire to engage in the rigors of performing it (it’s kind of like heaven—everyone wants to go there but not so many are willing to do what it takes to make it). It is, at least at the beginning, a process that presents an ugly and disheveled view. For Nehemiah, the structures are tumbled and the people no more than refugees living in squalor.
Today, this is little different from the individual or group that is the focus of the restoration. We have suffered setbacks, destruction, failures, and captivity to sin while the formerly dependable structures of our lives, e.g., friends, family, and community have often been pulled down.
For example, consider the pastor or church leader that has fallen into moral sin. Once the sin becomes public, the individual is cast aside and perceived as disqualified to continue in their gifts and callings. No one really wants to look them in the eye; the words that they speak are inaudible over the siren sound of the sin they have committed. Ministry position is stripped. Associates are no longer associated. Friends rarely call—if they ever call at all—and some even abandon the relationship as though the sinner were a leper.
The Bible is clear on the subject; Paul tells Timothy that if a brother is overtaken in a fault, those who are spiritual should restore that individual. During the process of restoration, according to the same scripture, the restorers should be considering themselves and realizing that they are not immune to similar failures. In practicality, this is rarely done and even when it is attempted, the results are mixed. For the most part, ministry leaders never regain the high ground.
Why is this?
It is because sin is ugly; repugnant to the eye and unclean to the soul. Insert the name of any leader here—one whom has been publicly revealed to have failed morally—and consider the failing. Homosexuality, marital infidelity, pedophilia, prostitution; the list is long and distinguished. And ugly.
Quite similar to the situation Nehemiah faced and every bit as difficult to repair. Sometimes the task of restoration is so daunting at the beginning that the view is overwhelming and the process does not seem worth the effort. Yet, the heart of the restorer is to bring order out of this chaos and return the individual or group to functional operation. Regardless of the scope, be it for the fallen individual or the church in disarray, restorers restore. They get the people working again, rebuild the walls and gates of life, and move the object of restoration back on a path to its former glory.
There are three simple concepts for restoration that will be patterned in Nehemiah and throughout this project; clean up, build up, and rise up.