Sunday, April 6, 2014
Jesus built this church on sinners
The lesson today was supposed to be on marriage, but he wanted to spend a few minutes on another subject, and that few minutes turned into the whole lesson, mostly because of all of the comments.
As part of the lesson, he read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which says:
9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
He talked a little about what kind of people were in this church. Former prostitutes, former drunkards, former homosexuals, former swindlers. This was a wicked city full of wicked people. And the church was full of these same people who had become Christians. This church was not full of your Christians who had been raised by Christian parents, who themselves had been raised by Christian parents. No spotless Christian pedigrees here. These people had been in deep sin, and been redeemed.
Then my Sunday School teacher said "And Jesus built his church on this kind of people." And I felt tears coming to my eyes.
My church, and many like it, are filled with "perfect Christians", people who got saved at an early age, were virgins on their wedding night, and hardly had an evil thought, much less sinful action, in their lives.
And then there's me. Damaged, guilty of sins that would cause the perfect Christians to pull their righteous robes close and pass by on the other side of the street, for fear they'd catch what I have.
Now I may not be the smartest cookie in the cookie jar, but I know there is no perfect Christian, and even in a church like mine where everyone has what looks like the perfect Christian pedigree, everyone is not as they seem. I'm not the only person in the church who has done worse than kept their eyes open during prayer. I'm not the only person who has a besetting sin and struggle that I have despaired of ever being free of, that I feared people finding out my deep, dark secret.
The devil did a really good job of convincing me for years that I had gone too far, sinned too greatly, was too damaged for God to completely redeem. The best I could hope for was a second class Christian experience, and He could never use me or have a plan for my life because of what I have done.
Something I overlooked or forgot, Satan is the father of lies, and he is really good at lying. I am done falling for his lies, and know the things he has been telling me are not true:
I am not worthless
I am not beyond hope
God DOES love me
Life is not hopeless
Not everyone would run if they knew the truth
Not everyone dislikes me
I am not beyond redemption
God still has a plan for my life.
Jesus built his church on people just like me. He didn't build it on people who had Christian pedigrees going back several generations. He built it on people who had been temple prostitutes, thieves, fornicators, homosexuals, murderers. And not to discount the people who have been good all their lives and never entertained much thought in going against God's laws. No one is a better Christian for what they did or didn't do before they came to Christ.
Maybe part of the problem is we aren't honest enough with each other. I blogged before about churches encouraging dishonesty, and I mean that. Imagine if the church had presented a more loving and compassionate attitude towards what I deal with. I may not have had to hide in the shadows all of these years, afraid to let people know the real me. Afraid to let people see my scars, my struggle.
I have felt increasingly that God wants to use my struggles to help others. What that entails, I have no idea. It would most likely mean stepping out of the darkness and saying, this is what I deal with. Scary, yet I have also increasingly began to not care. I've said enough on my blog posts that most people who think much, can figure it out. And that is OK. I'm tired of hiding in the dark, fearing what people will think. It only matters what God thinks. I want to be willing to be used by Him however He wants.
There are too many Christians who don't want people in the church who are sinners. Real sinners, the kind who have walked far down the road of immorality and wickedness. They want churches where everyone looks like they do, whose worst sin was cheating on a math test when they were a kid, and who won't offend their righteous sensibilities.
But in looking at the early church, could it be our churches full of "perfect" Christians with generations of Christian pedigrees, are further from the early church than the ones who welcome the prostitute, the drug addict, the homosexual, the drunkard? These can be redeemed as much as the pedigree Christians, and are the ones Jesus built His church on.
Maybe God's idea of the perfect church, is a church full of people redeemed from out and out sin, and people who need Jesus to fix their broken lives.
There is a song that brings home the truth that it doesn't matter where we came from. Whether we were a good kid that came to Jesus early and never wavered, or were someone who lived a life of depravity, we all had to come to Jesus and be redeemed.
We All Came to the Cross by Kenna West, Lee Black, and Tony Wood
Some came with stories
Of shame and regret
Others from places we've prayed to forget
Some from the ruins of lives that we've made
But we each had a moment when we cried out for grace
And somehow we all found our way
A thousand winding roads
But they led to one place
So many different stories
Of life when we were lost
We all came to the Cross
Some came from homes where His Word was read
Others from places His name wasn't said
Some bowed the first time He whispered their name
Others ran for a while
But in the end, just the same
Some whose sins were many
Some whose sins were few
We fell down on common ground