I realized that I can make my posts quite long. I am not sure how many people would actually read the whole 2,500 words in most of my posts, but I will try to be concise on my future posts! Today, we will discuss a church of sinners.
I went to California over the Christmas break, and during my stay, I was able to meet up with my friends from the Czech Republic. They are new converts. David is probably a year younger than me in the Faith, and his wife Sylvia was baptized two years ago. I have always thought that Faith starts off so much stronger with converts, than people that were raised in a church environment. They come from a place that religion (especially Christianity) gives them a bad taste in their mouths. Bad history of rulers using religion as a way to consolidate power. Many of the rulers, though claiming Christianity, acted very corrupt. Anyways, they recently moved to California because David works for a tech company in Cupertino, and they gave him the opportunity to transfer from Czechia to America. During our conversations, I would ask him if they found a church they could call their home for a bit. Months of searching, and they have not found one. I do not believe that all denominations are the same, and I have theological conflicts with denominations in general. So a non-denominational church of Christ is what I look for when I travel. They tend to teach just from the bible and not use the works of scholars. Pure bible. No more. No less. To me it is not too hard to find a church like that, but David had another criteria. The Czechs are people that hate fake people. If you are having a bad day, and you tell them you are fine, they will resent that. David does not want a church that carries on with small talk and act as if life is perfect. No he wants a church of sinners.
Now the phrase “church of sinners” threw me off guard. He explained that he wants to see a church that acknowledges that they are not perfect and do struggle with sin.
14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
15 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him.16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
You see, the church is not for the righteous. We are not perfect and healthy. We are very much imperfect and sick. We need a doctor. We need the church! But today, we are just acting like the pharisees thinking we are high and mighty. We have turned to making our lives to be the example of what the “lower” people should follow. Christianity is not self-righteous. We do not deserve righteousness, but the blood of Christ has washed our sin away and made us righteous.
Two weeks ago, I got drunk, and I decided I went too far. I needed help. I have been needing help for at least a year because of my great insecurities controlling me. No college ministry student has come forward in the invitation since I have been there. No person has gone up in front of everyone and personally confessed their sins to the church. My church is not small. There were almost 500 in attendance that day. I was nervous, but I needed the help of the brethren. I also wanted to address the church because I believe public confessions are a very important part of a healthy church. We are told to bear each other’s burdens. How is that possible without telling the brethren they burdens? I needed to tell everyone, hoping that this would be the time that I could get the needed prayers and support, but also to encourage more people to come up to confess like I did. I am not a high and mighty man. I may have been on a raised stage talking on the pulpit, but I was there broken down and sick. We are becoming like the pharisees. We are not perfect. Even in our prayers we may act high and mighty.
9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How often do we pray like the pharisee? How often do we just thank God for our faith and growth, but never say what is our sin or imperfections? Now its a great thing for the pharisee to do all he does to try and live a righteous life, but he self-exalted himself. He felt “worthy” enough to pray up to God. He felt like he was big stuff.
Now think about the tax collector. How often have we prayed like the tax collector? You see we are not worthy of the gift God has given us. We should deserve death, but God bore that pain. We are a church of sinners, not a church of the perfect. Lets not act like we are perfect. If we have troubles, do not hide them.
This post was supposed to be about the parasitic sins, but it turned out to be about being a church of sinners and not of the righteous. I hope you can ponder on these thoughts. I’ll make sure to write the parasitic sin post pretty soon.