My New Year’s wish for you may seem a bit abrupt. It is that you may be mended, restored, and prepared for service! I hope that doesn’t sound bad. I realize it could imply that we are broken, off track and useless. And in fact, there is some truth in that, but my wish for you for the new year is not intended to insult you. Rather, it is simply that God will continue to restore you. That is my wish and hope for myself as well.
Even more important than it being my wish for you, it is also God’s will for us all. It is based on an idea in Scripture that is communicated to us by an important word that I have come to love. In Greek it is the word katartizo (ca tar TEED zo). It means to mend, make complete, restore, prepare, equip or train. This word is the source of my New Year’s wish for us all.
The word is used to describe James and John mending their nets when Jesus called them (Matthew 4:21). Life and sin have injured me enough that I need some mending too. How about you?
The word is also used to describe our need to be restored to our former condition when we have gotten entangled in sin (Galatians 6:1; also 2 Corinthians 13:11). I need such restoration.
The word is used to describe God’s will that a church not be divided but united (1 Corinthians 1:10). That means the restoration God desires for us extends beyond ourselves to our relationships with other believers. Sometimes this is the part that seems the most difficult.
The word is used to describe Paul’s desire to be with the Christians at Thessalonica so that he might supply what was lacking in their faith (1 Thessalonians 3:10). This doesn’t necessarily refer to a wound, sin, or division, as above. It just describes our incompleteness and need for additional help and growth.
The word is used in Jesus’ statement that a disciple is not above his teacher but that when he is fully trained, he will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). God’s purpose is for us to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29) and this requires training. After fifty-something years of following Jesus, I can actually see some progress in this regard. Still, much more equipping and growth are needed.
Finally, the word is used in the blessing that God himself may equip us with everything good so that we might do his will (Hebrews 13:20-21). This is similar to the previous item only it specifies the source and purpose of the equipping. Though people can help equip us (see Ephesians 4:12 where the word is katartismos, the noun form of the word we are considering), God himself is ultimately the equipper. And though the goal is for us to be like Jesus (Luke 6:40), the purpose is that we might do his will.
We must get over the mistaken notion that God’s plan for us is merely that we get forgiven so that we can go to heaven instead of hell. That is an extremely watered down and inadequate understanding of God’s great plan. His intention for us is so much more comprehensive.
Unless we’re like Jesus, we’re not done yet. We must not get so comfortable with where we are that we grow sluggish. So as we begin another new year, I want to remind and encourage us all of the need to cooperate with God’s efforts to mend us, restore us, unite us, supply what we lack, train us to be like Jesus, and equip us to do his will. That’s my wish for you and for myself. It is also the will of God.
For more on how Empowering Subjects is equipping people to be like Jesus and do God’s will, see here.