The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Good People at Church?

She had seldom been to church a day of her life. In fact, she never thought she would ever go to church, but someone invited her and she came. Much to her surprise, she loved it! Not only that, but she heard the message of Christ’s love and grace instead of one of “I’m good! You’re bad, and you don’t belong here!” that she had always thought she would find at church! She realized that Jesus was the answer for her life and surrendered her life to him and was baptized on her third visit! She and her young children never missed a Sunday. Then the devil tried to creep in. The complaints came to the church board, “Her dresses are too short. It’s a distraction to the men who are serving the Lord’s Supper.” “Someone needs to talk to her.”

The young preacher said, “She’s a new Christian. Give her some time to figure out what is appropriate. Short dresses may be all she has to wear that are dressy.” Thankfully, the complainers held off and she began to show up in less provocative attire and the complaints faded. This is a true story from my early ministry.

Where did we get the idea that church was for “good people?” I don’t think we got that from Jesus. Perhaps it came from his greatest enemies, the Pharisees. John’s account of the confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus in John 8:2-11 is a classic example. The religious leaders (Pharisees) brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the very act of adultery. The text does not mention her clothing, but we can assume that she was likely not in the conservative apparel most commonly worn by Jewish women in the first century. Pulled from the bed of another adulterer, a man, who was conspicuously absent from the scene, the woman was brought straight to Jesus so that he could render a judgment on her sin. To the shock of the men who had brought her to Jesus, exposing her to public disgrace, he turned the tables on them by holding up a mirror through which they were forced to see their own sin. They had not anticipated this kind of self-exposure. But Jesus wasn’t interested in their little moralist “gotcha” games. Read the story and see what I mean.

From the beginning of time, sin has been a part of the human condition. The devil has sifted each of us with his crafty tricks. He knows where we are weak and, no matter how hard we try to get it right, we have a knack for caving into those deceptive moves. Yet, for some reason, we try to put on the mask of perfection, especially at church. One of the sneakiest ways we can do this is to point out the “obvious sins” of others. But this leads to arrogance, which the Bible points out is just another sin for us to commit. OOPS!

The church is not a museum to display perfect saints. The church is a hospital for sinners. When someone says they can’t go to church because they are sinful, you can tell them, “Hey! You will fit right in!” You’ve heard the true saying, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven!” God loves and wants sinners in His church. He sent his Son to die for sinners. When you see people at church that don’t seem to fit that “perfect” picture you envisioned of church people, you can know that we are all in the same boat. “I was sinking deep in sin, but love lifted me.”

I am looking forward to sharing the next message in our series The Good Shepherd and His Flock Follow the Leader. It is titled Good Shepherd/Bad Shepherd based on John 10:11-15. I hope that you will join us in learning about the example of Christ’s leadership for us.
Imperfect, but loved,

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