Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Christian lepers

This morning I had coffee with an old friend who recently got "kicked out" of his church because of sin in his life.  It always surprises me when a church, the place where sinners are supposed to find help, kicks those sinners out of church for the sins they most need help with!

What is wrong with us?  How do we think this is anything like Christ?

His comment to me (edited for your ears) was simply this, "It's a great church, just don't f--k up or be honest about your problems."

Did he sin that bad?  Oh yeah, he did!  But how would Jesus have dealt with the same thing?  He forgave!  He forgave the woman caught in sin, he forgave the leper for breaking the law by reaching out and touching him, he forgave Judas...he forgave me!

There are Christian lepers among us, people who sin, and are trying to deal with the sin, repent of it and walk with Christ, but we seem to have trouble with sinners, we expect everyone to have this whole Christian thing figured out, but no one does.  We are all messed up, we are all working on it....and no one gets it right... no one.

I'm forgiven, but I still mess up.  I still sin.  I don't want to, but I still do (Romans 7).  I'm forgiven, but I'm not perfect.  I will be one day, but for today, I'm a work in progress...a Christian leper, forgiven, but still dealing with some of the sin that has ruined my life.  One day, when Christ returns, I will be like him, but until then give me grace, give me space.  Forgive me, because I'm going to sin....and I might hurt you.  I'm not doing it on purpose, I would rather not,  but I know I will.  

As a pastor I know that we all struggle, we are all lepers becoming like Christ (Heb. 10:14), but until we are complete here are our instructions from the master, (Luke 6:27-38)-

27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back."

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