The Church is for Sinners, not Saints
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While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
When I first became a Christian at age 22, I thought church was only for perfect people. Or at least people who could act perfectly on Sunday mornings. I didn’t understand that the purpose of the church is to give a hand to the sick, not pat the healthy on the back.
Jesus often ate at the same table with “sinners”, and when he did, the Pharisees questioned why He did so. Jesus responded by saying “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:12) Author Brennan Manning puts it this way: “The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners”. That’s encouraging, because I often don’t feel much like a saint. Do saints lose patience with their brothers and sisters in Christ? Lose their temper? Sometimes even lose that passionate fire for the gospel?
The apostle Paul recognized his own moral failures when he says: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” But Paul continued by noting “for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
So at the same time as we acknowledge our sin, by trusting in Jesus’ righteous sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we can gather together to strengthen and encourage each other in our faith, so that we can continually strive towards becoming “perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Lesson: Never feel unworthy of worshiping God in repentance and faith with your fellow believers, because Jesus welcomes you to His table!
Question: Do you sometimes feel guilty or unworthy of worshiping God? Why do you feel that way?