What do you call a place full of messed-up people? Answer: a church!
I have heard many reasons why people don’t go to church. People have told me that other people who attend are too judgmental, too hypocritical, or have a holier-than-thou attitude. I’ve had people say, “If that’s how Christians act, then I don’t want any part of it.”
It’s sad because, in one breath, they criticize the people who are part of the church while at the same time acting as its judge. Those two things don’t go together well.
Want to know a secret? It’s all true! Yes, people who go to church have often been too judgmental, too hypocritical, and often had a super-spiritual attitude. Yes, they have gossiped, been cliquey, and been less than respectable at times. In short, they’ve often acted like everyone outside of the church has acted at one time or another. I openly admit it.
But that’s really what the church is. It’s a bunch of messed up, sinful people who are trying to follow Jesus the best way they can through the grace of God.
So, here’s what to expect when you decide to come to that place full of messed-up people, called the church.
Expect to meet people who have been ruined by sin.
Think of the church as a hospital for sick people with a disease called sin. Every single person you meet has been touched by the pandemic of sin in one way or another. It’s damaged their emotions, scarred their spirit, ravaged their past, and hurt their heart. It’s kept them from finding the peace and healing of God they so desperately want. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Expect to meet people searching for the answer to their sin problem.
The church is for sinful people who are searching for answers. It’s never been a place where you must get your act together before you come because you can’t. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:9)
Expect to meet people who hear the Good News and put their faith in Jesus to receive his grace and forgiveness.
The Good News is that Jesus came to save sinners by dying on the cross to pay for sin and rose from the dead so that we can live a new life. And all you must do is put your faith in Jesus Christ. As Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
Putting your faith in Jesus is just that; it’s faith. It’s a gift of God that doesn’t come about by performance. As Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
Expect to meet people who are imperfect and do imperfect things.
Jesus never called us to perfection. Only he is perfect. He called us to repentance and a new life in him.
When someone repents of their sin, it means they turn away from their sin and turn toward Jesus and follow him through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are spiritually born again into a new life and put off the old sinful person and put on a new person who is becoming like Jesus. (See Ephesians 4:17-30)
When you get to church, and you should, please realize that not one person you will meet has achieved perfection. What they are striving to do is to forget what is behind them and straining toward what is ahead. They are pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called them heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Paraphrased from Philippians 3:13-14)