The church is a gathering of the redeemed. We are made holy. We were not innately holy. The church is a place where those who know they are sick come to the Great Physician (cf. Lk. 5:31). The church is a monopoly of outcasts. It is filled with struggling ex-thieves, ex-drunkards, ex-adulterers, and ex-revilers (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
The church is (or should be!) a welcoming place for all because we have all been welcomed at Jesus’ own expense. Colossians radically says that in the church “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11).
The church is filled with all sorts of people with all sorts of problems. Let’s not be prideful about our problems and prudish about the problems of others.
Let’s remember that Jesus Himself was criticized by religious leaders because of the type of people that He hung out with and helped (cf. Matt. 9:9-13; 11:19; 21:31-32; Mk. 2:15-17; Lk. 3:12-14; 5:29-32; 7:36-50; 15; 19:1-10). Let’s not be like the hypocritical religious leaders. Let’s be like our Leader. Let’s be like the One who reaches out to heal our brokeness.
Jesus ministered to prostitutes and the friends that were closest to Him were not the religious elite but humble smelly fishermen. Jesus reached out and literally touched lepers (Matt. 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-44; Lk. 5:12-16).
Think of the biggest outcasts in today’s society—whether to you its addicts, illegal immigrants, poor people, unattractive people, those who have AIDS, so-called “white trash,” or whoever you think of—they are not outcasts to Jesus. He loves them. He reaches for them.
We must remember the gospel. We must understand that “none is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). All have sinned and are declared righteous by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:23).
The ground is level at the foot of the cross. We may not have the same addiction, i.e. sin problem, but we all have the sin problem.
We are outcasts that have been gathered for the wedding feast. We have even been given wedding garments. On our own, all of us, would be cast out on our own. Yet, through Christ we are all welcomed and recevice robes of rightouesness.
May the loving and reaching grace of our humble and exalted Lord create Kingdom communities that transform.
It is my prayer that we, as the church, would be more and more laid low by the profound reaching grace of God. God pulled us out of the slew of our sin. He pulled us out of death. We were helpless, lifeless. He saved us. May we understand and be humbled by Jesus’ saving work on our behalf and may we reach out as He did; in selfless humble love. We are not better or more righteous than others. We are saved. Saved by grace.