In “Tough Passages,” we’re looking at the difficult verses in the Bible that are often brought up by secular people as reasons the Bible doesn’t make sense, and discovering how they actually reveal the character, love, and glory of God in a beautiful way.
On Wednesday, we talked about some extreme holiness that Jesus commands, even going so far as to tell us in Matthew 5:48 that we “must be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect.” And we touched on the assertion by many that sinful people don’t belong in the Church.
So why is that untrue?
The short answer is, if we did kick sinful people out of the Church, there wouldn’t be a church. The last person would have to shut off the lights as they left. None of us are perfect; this is confirmed in the Bible, but we all know it ourselves. As I noted on Wednesday, the phrase “I’m only human” literally means “I’m not perfect.” We’re humans, a word which is practically synonymous with falling short.
So if you’re trying to fill a church with perfect people, you’ll be looking for quite a while. In fact, the only person who can come to your “Church of the Perfect Saints who have Never Sinned” is Jesus Himself.
being perfect is only a prerequisite for being the Messiah, not a member.
Our prerequisite for getting in is need. We have to know and realize that we bring nothing to the table. We have to acknowledge what we have – which is nothing. We were dead in our sin when Jesus rescued us.
And it’s absolutely amazing that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners! He didn’t wait for us to clean ourselves up. He loves us enough to embrace us, even in the muck of our sin. But He also loves us too much to leave us in that muck. He knows that our distance from God is killing us, so He rescues us from it.
That’s why Jesus’ salvation also brings with it something called “sanctification,” a process of becoming more holy and more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, guiding us to become more like God.
So don’t try to clean yourself up before you come to God, or before you join the Church on her mission. It’s Jesus’ job to begin with, and you’ll never make it if you try.
And fear not! The ticket to get into the church isn’t piety. It’s need.
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