First a disclaimer: I have no intention of offending any of my readers. I know there are some religious groups/denominations who believe in obtaining sinless perfection here on earth. While I disagree, I am not writing this post to incite hard or harsh feelings toward me or anyone who comments.
If you read this post, you will know I am in the process of reading Mud and the Masterpiece by John Burke. It is blowing me away! Case in point: I went to bed Tuesday night at 9:30 (I get up at 4) and got back out of bed to read until after 11. Yeah, I questioned my sanity when the alarm went off, but I have been captured by his book. But it is not the first time John has written a book that has done that to me. If you were to look at our website you will find that OVCF is a
“Come as you are church where No Perfect People are Allowed.”
While I have wanted to pastor a church with that focus, I could never articulate it. Until I read John’s book No Perfect People Allowed shortly after I moved here in 2005. I didn’t just read it once. I read it three times and then preached a sermon series based on the idea, plus we offered small groups. It
drove brought the point home, and it became our moniker and motive for ministry.
I firmly believe the church ought to be the one place people feel safe. Comfortable (in a good way). Covered in love and acceptance. Now… please understand I am not saying sin ought to be sugar-coated and the gospel (good news) of Jesus should be compromised. But the love of Jesus can be shared and the conviction of sin can be shared with a heart of love. No, let me restate that: the love of Jesus and the conviction of sin MUST be shared with a heart of love. We can’t expect a secular culture like the one we live in to embrace our “Christianese” and our strong condemnation of
sin them. Why should they? Heck, I know churches and “followers of Jesus” who don’t even do that. A few years ago I read a book called “They Love Jesus but Not the Church.” With our screaming judgmentalism and wall-building sectarianism why should they? They certainly don’t “feel the love” emanating from us. Sadly, in today’s world, the message and the messenger are almost inseparable.
Here’s what I am advocating: The church is to be like Jesus and be His representative. Take the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery or the woman who anointed his feet. How did Jesus approach each of them? He didn’t judge and castigate, but He also didn’t pooh-pooh their sin. “Go, call your husband, and come here.” “Go, and sin no more.” “Your sins are forgiven.” He loved them, but didn’t excuse them.
What a difference we would make if we approached people as Jesus did. Do you struggle with this? How are you doing? How does your church do? Any thoughts?