Is the Church Filled with Big Time Sinners?
The other day I was reading through the book of Luke and I came across Luke 7:36-50 (you can read it here). In this passage a woman who was a prostitute heard Jesus was eating in the home of a Pharisee (a Jewish religious leader) named Simon and she wept at Jesus’ feet, kissed His feet, and anointed His feet with ointment. Simon thought that if Jesus were really a prophet, He wouldn’t let this woman touch Him. She’s not the
type a good, religious person should be near and she would make Him ceremonially unclean according to their traditions.
Jesus responded by telling Simon a parable:
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Jesus then describes how the woman has treated Him much better than Simon had and then says:
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
This got me thinking about the church. Who do we try to bring into our churches? Are most of our efforts focused on events that would attract primarily other Christians? When we think about inviting someone to our church are they usually other Christians or people who are at least seem to live according to similar principles? Do we ever try to reach out to people who have “sinful” lifestyles? Do we ever pursue people who would think we would never want them in our church?
Sometimes I lament how often Christians tend to seem uninterested in doing anything outside of Sunday morning…and even Sunday morning might only happen once or twice a month. Sometimes I lament how often I choose to go hang out with other Christians instead of trying to create new connections with people who do not know Christ.
This passage in Luke made me wonder…Is the reason that church members sometimes can see so dispassionate about their faith and uninterested in worship and service because the only people we are bringing into our churches are people who don’t feel like they have much to forgive? Sure, we all know that we need forgiveness and that we are all sinners, but we can also feel like we’ve lived pretty good lives, especially in comparison to “that” guy or girl.
Could it be that we feel like we have been forgiven little and, thus, we love little?
Of course, that’s not really true. You and I have not been forgiven little. We have been forgiven much because we have sinned much. We should always remember that. The difference between Simon and the woman wasn’t how sinful they were, but who recognized that they were sinful. The world (or even other Christians) may not consider our sins to be so great, but all sin is a form of rebellion against God. Lustful thoughts, holding onto that grudge, not caring for those in need, gossiping, etc. are all just as sinful as murder, rape, and prostitution. They have just as much a need of being covered by the blood of Christ. Praise the Lord that He did die for us and covered over our multitude of sins. We should always remember this as well. Through faith in Jesus, your many sins are forgiven.
I wonder what the church would be like if we truly thought that we were all great sinners, desperately in need of God’s grace. I wonder what the church would be like if we regularly sought the people who lived such lives that they would never think that we would invite them or welcome them. I wonder what the church would be like if it were filled with people who knew that they had been forgiven of so much.