“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” ― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
Just this past week I received a FACEBOOK message from someone in the community and it simply said that someone in the church wasn't acting like a Christian and for that reason this person was not going to support our church anymore. Further more this person went on to say that it was the church's responsibility to "control it's members".... they went on to say that if the church didn't do something about this person then they would never be a part of the church ever again.
So I decided to contact our member and have them brought before the congregation and have them covered with tar and feathers; I then would have them paraded around town with a sign saying "unclean" and "I'm not perfect"....
Well I didn't do that at all... but what should I have done... let me give you 4 reasons why the church isn't what you thought!
“Our culture diets on the candy of tolerance, but what it really craves is the meat of grace. Tolerance does not value people but simply puts up with their behavior or beliefs. Tolerance alone cannot accommodate both justice and mercy—it can only look the other way. Tolerance might deal with differences, but it can’t embrace us in full knowledge of sin and remove our guilt.” ― John Burke, No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church
1) Grace is MESSY!
If there is one thing that I've learned about God's grace is that it's messy. What I mean is that God's grace and his patience is much more than what I can handle at times. I'm simply not that patient, nor am I that gracious. I'm human and that should be enough for me to understand that when people mess up, or don't live up to my expectations, then I should understand that God is above my standards. I'm not perfect, but we really don't want to believe that "church people" have issues.
Yes - believe it or not - but followers of Jesus struggle at times. I know that's a shocker and we all should be perfect - without fault - I know that we should always say the right things, do the right things, live a perfect life - but we don't - and God knows that.
The issue is that we don't really live that kind of grace out. A kind of grace that is not afraid to deal with sin in a loving relationship without judgement. The kind of patience that allows people time to grow stronger instead of becoming weaker.
“Failure is just part of the process, and it's not just okay; it's better than okay. God doesn't want failure to shut us down. God didn't make it a three-strikes-and-you're-out sort of thing. It's more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.” ― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
2) People need a 2nd Chance
Many times I've been scolded for giving people a second chance or hanging around people who are messy. I guess I realize that I'm messy too and there is part of me that is afraid to get to close to "perfect people" because I don't want to ruin their self image.
As a Christ Follower I've been given a really cool job - go tell dirty, messy, rotten, stinky, humans that there is a perfect, awesome, grace giving, totally powerful God who wants to be my FATHER, FRIEND, CEO, CFO, SAVIOR, LORD, (you fill in the rest)... but there is a God who absolutely loves me for me and wants me to live the best life possible.
9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
I know that the Bible sometimes is hard to understand, but this is pretty clear! Jesus died for me. He loves me. Jesus came to give me life that is filled to the brim with joy, happiness, strength, power, fulfillment, satisfaction, etc. Jesus wants me to have a life that is abundantly more than what can be imagined. (Pause and input your sin here)...
Yes, even when you were a sinner - Jesus did this for you! Here's the pickle... WE ARE TO SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS WHO DON'T KNOW JESUS!!!! That's right the people that need a 2nd chance! And the hard truth is that we are broken and weak vessels. We share the best message in the world from broken, wounded, tired, worn out, stressed out, human bodies... so we too need a 2nd chance... and you know what... Jesus gives us that chance... WHY!
So that we can get back up and swing for the fences... the world needs Jesus! The world doesn't need more rules and Pharisees...
So for those of you that feel like "Christians" should be perfect we are not! For those of you that want to place unreal expectations on us we are OK with that! For those of you that want grace and forgiveness in your own lives... start with maybe giving us a 2nd chance.
“Grace works that way. It's a kind word from a gentle person with an impossible prayer. It's a force sometimes transmitted best hand to hand in a dark place.”
“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That's what I want my life to be all about - full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.” ― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
3) Church is a place to OFFER LIFE
Simply put: Church is a community of broken and redeemed people that put God's love into action. Church isn't a building. Church isn't a place that fits into just one thought. Church isn't sitting in a pew for an hour a couple times a month.
Church frankly is a group of broken, messy, loved, imperfect followers of Jesus - church can show up any where at any time. But these broken, messy, loved, imperfect followers of Jesus are trying to make it better. We are trying to be better. We know that the world is broken and the people are broken. But Jesus wants to fix that... one person at a time.
So if you have been hurt by a "church person" - I'm sorry! Please don't judge all of us based on the actions of one or a few.
If you think that we "Christians" should be perfect... we are NOT... but we are trying... so please understand that not every day we are going get it right. Show us some love.
If you are a follower of Christ - a Christian - and you claim that... don't use you mess, your past, your sin, as an excuse to be a butt head - realize that you are flying the banner of Jesus. I know that your not perfect - Jesus knows even better than me you're not perfect - so when you are around others who may not share your same thoughts or beliefs - remember that Jesus died for you when you were a TOTAL MESS - give back some of that love to this messy, unforgiving, hard, cruel, mistaken, out of place world. It's what Jesus would do... live differently in order for those who don't know Jesus can have a chance of seeing what LOVE REALLY IS... “But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It's a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” - Bob Goff
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter.”
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