Friday, August 11, 2017

Safe for Sinners or Safe for Sin?

The church must be a place that is safe for sinners, but not safe for sin (HT: RO). That's what the church ought to be, reflecting the image of Jesus.

Luke 5:31-32
And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
Luke 7:34
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
Luke 15:1-2
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
Jesus was always going to the sinners and sinners were always coming to him. And encountering Jesus, they were never the same. Though they felt safe with the Son of God, their sin was no longer safe. It was exposed in the light of his presence. The deadly cancer eating their souls was subject to the radiation of his gracious glory, and it shriveled.

So, his church, having been transformed by his grace, will shine with his light. We will always be going to sinners and sinners will be coming to us.

Sadly, it's often the other way around. This is the anti-church. Where it is safe for sin, but not safe for sinners. Wretched, God-forsaken place! Filled with Pharisees who look squeaky clean, but inside are stinking piles of self-righteous, self-serving, self-protective dung (Matthew 23:23-28). This place cares more about image than reality. Behavior management is the fast track, not heart transformation.

It's where all manner of ugliness can find shelter behind a thin veneer of religiosity: where buying shares of control passes for generosity; where abuse passes for headship; where a good show of "having it all together" passes for maturity; etc. ad nauseum.

What ends up happening in such places of institutionalized hypocrisy? They are not safe places for sinners. They give off the impression that church is only for "good," moral people who have their act together. People who are honest enough to know they're a mess won't see any reason to come.

A plague on these hypocritical houses!

May the loving Lord Jesus build his church - where sinners find safety and welcome by the gospel of grace -- the grace that goes too deep to leave us unchanged.

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