I want to quote something from Robert Farrar Capon, a brilliant writer. He writes this:
Jesus didn’t shy away from sinners, so why should the church? And don’t tell me the church welcomes sinners. I know better. It welcomes only sinners who repent and then never seriously need forgiveness again.
And unfortunately I think that may be true. And you might even be able to confirm that, to share stories of how the church let you down, or let someone you know down.
But today I don’t want to use this quote to jump all over the church, and its failings. Because I think that misses the point. It’s so easy to read that quote and say, “yeah the church is screwed up.” To get all high and mighty and condemn those people in the church who don’t get grace, and forgiveness.
But here is the truth: the church is people. And if you follow Jesus you are part of that people, for better or worse.
And this quote loses its convicting and compelling power if it becomes about “other people”. If we are part of the church, we should use this quote to examine our own lives. We should stop, and reflect and ask the Holy Spirit, “Is there anything I need to change in my life”.
Because what I think the Holy Spirit is asking me through this quote is to really examine my life.
- Do I truly welcome people where they are at, no agenda, with love?
- Am I truly okay with broken people, or do I expect them to get “fixed”?
- Am I in anyway being an obstacle to the Holy Spirit working in my community because I’m not really ready to welcome sinners?
Because this quote isn’t about “other people rejecting sinners”. This quote is about each of us asking ourselves, “am I living like Jesus with welcome and hospitality?” And that’s a lot harder question, a lot more personal question, and a much more worthwhile one.