“We’ve got churches of Christians. I’d like to see a church of all sinners!” my coworker joked. I stopped and looked at him. He and another coworker laughed.
“But…but that’s what a church is,” I tried to say. “That’s…that’s the point.” Neither man is a church go-er. But they both grew up in church and stopped attending as they reached adulthood. Had they both missed this essential part of Christianity? That we are ALL sinners, including those in the church?
Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Every church is packed with sinners. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:10). The Bible isn’t full of perfect people. Rahab was a prostitute. David used his power as king to have sex with Bathsheba, then have her husband killed. Paul hunted down and killed Christians. And God welcomed them into the church. We are the church. Only Jesus’s death and resurrection can make us forgiven and new. Jesus came to save the lost and restore the sinners, and He does this for us every day, constantly healing us of our sin (Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17).
It broke my heart to see people who’ve attended church and still don’t know the truth about Jesus. What are we doing wrong? Are we not sharing the gospel? Are we not telling the rough parts of our testimonies? Are we afraid of sin, afraid of sharing our lives honestly? Jesus isn’t afraid of our sin. He knows it all, and He loves us and rescues us.
Because of Jesus, we are free to be real. Does this mean we embrace or glorify sin? No. Our desire is to become more like Christ by relying on the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2). But let’s also be honest about the messy sin in our lives, the sin Jesus rescues us from. • Natty Maelle
• Have you ever felt like you don’t belong in church? Why? It’s okay to be honest. Jesus doesn’t reject you; He cares deeply for you. You can talk to Him about these feelings and hurts anytime.
•Who can you be honest with about your sin struggles—people who will listen, not condemning you but encouraging you in your walk with Christ? (You can ask God for relationships like this.)
•If you go to church, do you think new Christians or hesitant attendees feel like outsiders there? Or do you think they feel welcomed, loved, and seen? (Romans 8:1; 15:7)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)