I get to meet with people from our church over coffee. It’s one of the perks of the job (sorry, pun initially not intended). There’s something about a coffee shop that helps people to speak freely. I’ve met people in that setting in every church I’ve worked for. One of them came up with an interesting comment. This person said, “Our church doesn’t have enough sinners.”
You can take that one of several hundred different ways. I think that I know what this person meant, though, and it follows along the lines of one of my recent posts. A lot of times we miss out on healing from our struggles because we tend to deny that they exist. Our “success” as Christians becomes equated with the appearance of an absence of turmoil in our lives.
Yet, Jesus hung out with “sinners”. I wonder if this means more than Jesus chillin’ with unbelievers. What if it also means he gravitated towards believers who acknowledged that all human life comes with difficulties and bumps in their transformational roads. We still have issues with sin, just like the Apostle Paul did even after having written large chunks of the New Testament (1st Timothy 1:15; Romans 7:14-20 – notice the present tense).
Maybe Jesus hangs out with sinners because they know that they’re sinners. He didn’t have a good time around “righteous” people, like Pharisees, because they didn’t know how bad off they really were. So, they were unable to honestly interact with the Savior who wanted so much to free them from the suffering they were in denial about.
Same’s true today. If you think that you’re all that spiritually – you’re really not. And worse , you can’t get better until you humble yourself and let God do his thing in your life. Gossip, anger and other sins that churches gloss over act as defense mechanisms that allow us to put off dealing with the real issues of life. That’s why we need more sinners in our churches – people who Jesus is really among because they know how much they need him. And when you’re around people who recognize and deal with the junk in their lives, it breaks down a major barrier in your readiness to deal with your own. And, you’d naturally attract more people to Jesus in the process. Like I said, Jesus hung out with sinners . . . but they wanted to hang out with him too.
That’s how I understood this person’s comment, anyway. When you hear “There’s not enough sinners in our church,” what does is meant to you? Grab some coffee and think it over.