Today’s church is already wired, and if your parish isn’t taking full advantage of all of these ways of touching people throughout the week, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
Sin – Let’s Talk
I’ve heard complaints that we don’t talk enough about sin anymore. If that is said about me, I don’t want it to be justified. So I’m going to talk about sin. Get ready.
Everyone reading this is a sinner. I don’t mean once was a sinner. I mean a sinner today. I include Mother Theresa, the Apostle Paul, Barrack Obama, and Rush Limbaugh. Okay, so those guys probably aren’t reading this, but I hope you get the point.
Sorry if you feel insulted, but you are a sinner. I don’t care what prayer you might have said or if you had water sprinkled on you or you got dumped in it. You are still a sinner. Those events were, no doubt, of great significance in your spiritual journey, and mandated by Jesus, but they didn’t make you a non-sinner.
Saved and Sinning
Perhaps you are confusing being a sinner and being saved from your sin. The death of the sinless one, Jesus, makes it possible (not automatic) for you to be saved from the eternal condemnation that comes with sin. It doesn’t turn you into someone who never sins.
But, you say, and quite correctly, “I am a new creature.” When we are born again we are a new creation, a special child of God, a man or woman with a commission, capable of being more like Christ, one who has turned away from his sins: BUT STILL A SINNER. Our turning away, our repentance, is never perfect or perpetual. We fall back into sin. Hopefully, less often and less “grievously” but fall we do.
Sin is missing the mark and falling short. Even after salvation, we still miss the mark and we still far short. Sometimes we get closer to the mark and fall less short, but the standard is Jesus. The standard is perfection.
Failing to recognize this is hurting the church more than ever. The quickest way to feel better about our imperfections is to compare them to others. It’s no problem finding someone who missed the mark by more and fallen far shorter than we have. However, God doesn’t grade on the curve. If you miss the mark, you miss the mark. If you fall short, you fall short. Read it again: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
Just So You Can’t See My Sin
Some sins are much more visible than others. Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery illustrates that some sins are just out there for public consumption. Her public sin made the Jewish leaders feel better about themselves, until Jesus’ question about casting the first stone, sent them slinking away.
The church has stood strong against some public sins to the point that those struggling with such sins stay away from the church houses. It hasn’t stood strong against all obvious sin. Gluttony is okay; homosexuality not so much. Secret sinners are no problem at all. Addictions are okay, as long as it doesn’t become obvious.
Until we acknowledge that we all sin, we will minister as cripples. Churches and each Christian need to welcome all sinners, public and private. Jesus knew in advance we would have this problem. It’s why he hung with public sinners. Our churches should be filled with “obvious” gays, along side couples who live together unmarried, in the same row with those struggling with pornography in secret and fudging the tax numbers annually. If we did that we would deflate the arguments that certain things clearly labelled as sin in scripture, aren’t really sin at all. We could stop the silliness about who among us is the bigger sinner and start helping each other deal with our sin. Acceptance into fellowship, isn’t enabling or approving sin; it’s the first step in ministry.
In prison ministry, we secret sinners go to those certified by the state as sinners. It’s glorious to see what happens when the secret sinners become vulnerable about their failings and struggles. It fires up the process of reconciliation. It promotes sanctification. It frees the captives, those in physical prison and the “free men” as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if churches in the “free world” were really that free?
“Sin” I’ve said it. Doesn’t it need to be said more?
My pastor handed me a magazine after I met with him this week and was headed out the door. He’s always handing me things. I think he believes I have room for improvement. Silly man.
It turned out to be an impressive publication. It has a profession, national look and feel, but is local in focus and distribution. Covenant Spotlight is distributed throughout the Lafayette area in businesses and churches. If you can’t get a copy at your church on Sunday, maybe you should change churches. Okay, that’s a bit severe. Here are some places that have them. There is, of course, a web-site: http://cspotlight.com/ and a Facebook page. You can even follow them on Twitter. If you get a chance to pick a copy, you’ll likely see someone you know or have heard about. You might even get blessed.
My grandson was excited to see an article about his Sensei Micah at Cajun Karate. Last Saturday I watched his training session, that included workout, self-defense, scripture, positive reinforcement and encouragement. Nicky had trained before at a different facility. He hadn’t gotten that kind of Christian-based training.
Sadly, some of us have gotten the idea that a “Christian” business is likely sub par, but should be supported just to help a brother or sister. In my experience, a real Christian business offers the best. Isn’t that what we are called to, excellence for Christ?
I know this sounds like an advertisement. I guess it is. I do think this is important. I believe we should support Christian businesses when possible. Shouldn’t we get to know about other churches? Isn’t it a good idea to help the unchurched find the right place for them to connect and worship? Covenant Spotlight helps to do all that. It also had enough interesting, non-churchy stuff that someone who picks up a copy might look through it long enough to make an eternally significant connection.
The project is church supported. Perhaps that will help bring together more of us who worship separately and tend to wall ourselves into our own little worlds. My church and yours are doing great work, but so are many others. Think alliances, joint projects and mutual support. We need to know about, pray for and support that. Business thrives on networking, Christians can learn from that. Other churches are not the enemy. Well, most other churches.
Here’s an idea for this weekend. Find a copy of Covenant Spotlight. Take it outside in this beautiful weather. Spend some time reading, enjoying His creation, and feeling blessed. It might also be a good conversation starter while tailgating. So far this season we sure don’t want to talk Saints, Cajuns or Tigers. Let’s pray that will change this weekend.
A few nights ago my wife and I were watching Mrs. Miniver. I commented that the last scene would make great blog material. When I woke up the next morning I found that my wife had transcribed the short sermon from the scene and a copy was on my chair. That’s just the kind of partner I have. I was moved by the sermon because it reflected a nation brought to single purpose in response to an unprovoked attack from an enemy. I was a bit jealous of folks who found themselves, at least for a time, in a united, single purposed nation even if it took a war to do it.
We are, for all practical purposes, at war now. we are under attack but we stay as divided as the east is from the west. Folks on both the left and right nest in their own worlds where no contrary view or thought is permitted. If you doubt it, spend some time on Facebook, not with your normal “friends” but with some folks from “across the aisle.” It won’t be long before you will realize that you aren’t in Kansas anymore.
I know we can’t expect to be one, at least not before He returns. There I go alienating those whose knees on’t bend until the end. It’s just sad.
Read my wife’s work or watch it on video . See if you feel what they must have felt, united against the enemy.
I will read to you from Psalm 91:” I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (KJV)
We in this quiet corner of England have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us, some close to this church: George West, choir boy; James Ballard, station master and bell ringer, and a proud winner, only an hour before his death of the Beldon Cup for his beautiful Miniver rose. And our hearts go out in sympathy to the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago. The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There is scarcely a household who hasn’t been struck to the heart.
And why? Surely you must have asked yourselves this question. Why, in all conscience should these be the ones to suffer‐children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness? Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed? I shall tell you why-~because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people, of all the people. And it must be fought not only on the battle field, but in the cities and the villages, and in the factories and on the farms; in the home and in the heart of every man, woman, and child who loves freedom.
Well, we have buried our dead. Do not forget them. Instead,they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves and those who come after us from the tyranny and terror that threatened to strike us down. This is the people’s war. It is our war. We are the fighters. Fight it then! Fight it with all that is in us! And may God defend the right.