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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Birth Is Messy

Mark 2:15-17 (ESV)
15  And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

My church* is full of sinners. Many of them use colorful language. Many of them have equally colorful backgrounds. Some of them don't know what a Christian is. I am glad they are at my church. I am afraid that there are churches who would have nothing to do with them. There are churches who would tell them that they have to clean up their acts before they can come to their churches.

So, tell me how we are supposed to see people come to know Christ if we aren't willing to be around them until they act like they have come to know Christ. We have no apparent appeal for them. The society we live in will more likely shun them for going to church rather than praise them. There is no status gained by church membership. Why should they come if we don't love them exactly the way they are?

I saw my children born many years ago. It was a messy business. I loved those children before they were cleaned up. I loved them before they would know who I am. I didn't tell them to clean up. They wouldn't have understood. I didn't tell them that I would love them as soon as they acted correctly.  They would have learned conditional love that way. And I am afraid that they would never come to love my Savior if they couldn't understand unconditional love.

Sure, there are people who never use colorful language or have colorful backgrounds who also come to my church. They have been so changed by the Lord that they love people regardless of whether or not they know the Lord. They see themselves as sinners who are being changed by the grace of God. They teach Sunday School, feed people who can't afford food, serve others in the kitchen, visit the sick and do whatever it takes to take care of God's creation. They are lights shining brightly for the cause of Christ. They understand that Christ came for them but that they are not an exclusive group. He came for those who neither know the Lord nor act like they want to.

Sinners don't show up already clean. They come messy.

I have people visit my church weekly who come in and look at those in the congregation with tattoos and unusual dress and decide that they don't want to be in be in a church that welcomes people like this. I never see them again. They don't know that we would have loved them as if they were sinners, too.

*I do not own my church. I use this term to identify with the church I pastor.

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