Written by cycleguy on March 13th, 2013

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?


30 Comments so far ↓

  1. We might make more of a difference in the world.

  2. Daniel says:

    I am not great approaching people because of my autistic ways. I have done a shade better as I have gotten older, but nothing that is any great shake. I am not sure about my church, as I only know 99.9% of the folks in my church from the hour I see them on Sunday. I am not particularly plugged in with my church.

    • cycleguy says:

      Some people have a little more difficulty plugging in. I know the autistic ways tend to make it tougher to get to know people and to plug in. Maybe you can find someone down the road. In the meantime, do what you can to make a difference one person at a time. 🙂

  3. Dan Black says:

    Great post and reminder! If we ever found a “perfect” church it would become imperfect once we(I) attended:) The world really needs people/churches to accept people and the junk they/we all have. I try and first show Jesus to others before sharing Jesus with them. This means to serve and be real about life.

  4. the Old Adam says:

    It’d be great if we could do a lot of things that Jesus did.

    Bu, unlike Him, we are both saint AND sinners.

    So while we should try to love God and the neighbor as ourselves…we must live in constant repentance that we just aren’t up to it.

  5. Jeff says:

    I know a lot of people, that are non-Christians, that approach people as I imagine Jesus would. And I know a lot of Christians that don’t. It seems ironic. I don’t think it is all that hard to understand you need to treat people the way you want them to treat you.I guess some people, regardless of their professed beliefs, just don’t get it.

    • cycleguy says:

      Sadly your assessment is correct Jeff. Non-Christians are sometimes better reps than Christians. You are right about some just not getting it, pastors included.

  6. David Rupert says:

    I do go to a church that regularly touts their brokenness and even suggest others churches for those who need a little less imperfection.

    I am finding my self drawn to the hurting and suffering. It’s where my attention, my money and my words go . It’s not easy and I go get ‘used and abused’ , but it’s worth it for eternity

    • cycleguy says:

      That is an interesting idea David, telling people to go elsewhere. 🙂 Most will put on airs and say “stay here.” The truth is we will have a chance of being “used and abused” if we put ourselves “out there” to help others. Good comment. Thanks.

  7. Sele says:

    I really appreciate your thoughts today. I’m afraid that in some of our churches today, the regular members would turn around and go home if they saw a sign on the door that read “No Perfect People Allowed.” Too many churches would sit idle.

  8. As I read this, I could not help but remember the passage in Mark 2:16-17

    When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

    On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Last night, my pastor shared a quote from a friend who said:

    “My job as a pastor is to comfort those in need of comfort and to discomfort those who are comfortable.”

    Jesus did just that. He upset the religious by modelling to them the need and way to minister to the lost through love and not condemnation. At the same time, He reached out to those who were ‘sick’ in sin’s grip and introduced them to His grace that saves.

    • cycleguy says:

      Great thoughts Dusty! Jesus is the perfect picture of someone who saw people as needing Him, but got on the religious leaders who didn’t think they did. Always good to hear from you.

  9. Susan says:

    Sometimes I think we strive to hard to be like Jesus. When He saves us, He comes to live out His life through us. That does not require striving. It only requires us to be available when He wants to work through us.

    • cycleguy says:

      I like your way of thinking Susan. We often have the idea I am saved by grace, but now I gotta depend on my work/works. Striving gives me the idea of a lack of assurance.

  10. floyd says:

    Great post, Bill, and the woman at the well and how Jesus handled the situation is literally perfect. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    The legalists and finger pointers never stop to contemplate their weaknesses… too bad. It they did the church would be perceived completely different… A ploy of the enemy we can all fall prey to if we’re not seeking God and His will diligently.

    • Ed says:

      I like Floydss response.

      I will add though, that many non-Christians (and even some Christians) have a mentality as “Christians should always give and help others.” While we are to do that, there is a misunderstanding that we should be abused too. But Jesus gave the blind eyes, the deaf ears, and the lame feet. After that He told them “Go….”

    • cycleguy says:

      You most definitely get the gist of my post Floyd. The old saying (People don’t care…) goes well. The legalists and finger pointers have done the church a great disservice.

  11. I think we all struggle with it to some degree, but the model of Jesus is unmistakable. I wrote it about it not too long ago, but He gave love and grace first and then called them to live in grace, to “go and sin no more.” Sinners liked to hang out with Him because of this fact. If the world doesn’t see something different in us, why would they want to be around us? Good stuff, Bill.

    • cycleguy says:

      So very true Jason. Jesus did give love but then challenged them with “stop sinning.” Get out of that lifestyle. The old me would have had trouble hanging around Jesus-i was too Pharisaical. Thanks for the comment Jason.

  12. Mike says:

    Perfect people make me uncomfortable. That might have something to do with the amount of flaws I have. I remember when everyone was wearing those WWJD bracelets to where it started losing it’s meaning. I think they need to be popular again as that is a question I regularly ask myself these days. Imperfect people are not attracted to the perfect and self righteous. Like Christ, we need to meet people where they’re at.

  13. Debbie says:

    This reminds me of something I read a long time ago. I think it was written for missionaries especially, which I guess we all are, in a way, as we go out and about our day. It talked about being transparent, vulnerable and living ‘broken’ before people. Not for the weak of heart, eh? Thank you and God bless you and your perfectly imperfect congregation!

  14. One interesting point too is that Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. In other words, the poor sinners and the rich sinners. I find we often have compassion towards the homeless and the down and out but then animosity towards the guy in the three-piece suit.

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