I’m sure you think of yourself as a sinner. But do you think of yourself as a sinner that’s as bad as others? Are/were totally lost and in need of all the gospel, or just kinda lost in need of a piece of it? Did you need some makeup, or a total makeover? Pastor Randy Pope (Perimeter Church, Atlanta) wonders, did all of Adam’s children truly lose it ALL? He’s afraid that Eph.2:1 may be the American church’s most neglected Scripture; that we think we were just sick with sin rather than dead in it.
Last year Deanna Ballman was murdered in rural Ohio. She’d moved there after leaving her husband in Colorado, and was trying to make ends meet for herself and her two children. Plus she was 9 months pregnant. The ER doctor who pled guilty to killing, raping her, and shooting her full of heroin will be sentenced later this month. A prosecutor on the case says she needed money and in desperation had turned to prostitution. Answering Dr. Salim’s suggestive Craigslist ad led to her death. (Wait, have the Pharisees arrived for the jury?)
What comes to your mind when you read this? “Well, I feel sorry for her, but she made her bed; guess she has to lay in it.” What if there was nothing to eat in the house and hadn’t been for two days? What would you do then? Are you sure? “She should have never left her husband”. Maybe he beat her. Would you stay? Or expect your daughter to? “She should have asked the church for help.” Maybe she did and was turned down. Most churches have fairly strict policies about strangers and money, or giving money more than once when they have no relationship with the person.
There’s a nice blank triangle over the entrance to our worship center that I think would be a great spot to declare “Home for Sinners”. Wouldn’t it be great for people outside to learn that people inside believe that they too are sinners?
Although otherwise completely human, Jesus didn’t have the parity with sinners that I do. Yet His compassion is obvious with all kinds of people: the floozy Samaritan woman at the well; the cheating wife the Pharisees used to try and label Jesus as anti-law, the spoiled, calculating, wealthy noble who refused to part with his money. The soldiers in the shadow of His cross. If the sinless Son of God was kind and patient with sinners, how can someone like me who is a veteran at saying “Yes!” to temptation, who knows the broken sorrow of falling short of what I planned–and God desires, have the audacity to look down on others–who also sin? Embrace, love, help, forgive, care for them. We were once them.