My homily this morning is going to be simple, even conversational. I want to discuss us with us. Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). This is such a powerful statement. It speaks not just to the sinner, but also those in faith. It means that the church is a refugee camp. It is a welcoming post for the tired, the weary, the discouraged, oppressed, sinful, depressed, hopeless, suffering, weak, poor, suicidal, exhausted, fatigued, drained, burned-out and bleary.
Unfortunately, we’ve not always seen the Church in terms of this conception. Or why else would we be judging people. We judge outerwear, judge reputation, social standing and history. We see the outerwear but fail to see the wear and tear on the soul. We pass judgment on certain garments as “inappropriate” for church. We forget that’s all some have! She doesn’t dress “holy”… He doesn’t dance “holy”… If the Holy God is not complaining can we? It’s almost as if Jesus goes to the highways and byways to bring people in, but like Pharisees we turn them away. We think we are morally superior to others, which is an irony of fact and parameters. We are sinners saved by grace but sinners nonetheless. Paul described himself as the “greatest of sinners” (1 Timothy1:15). We’re like the man James described. He looks in the mirror, walks away and promptly forgets what he looks like.
The reason we have this judgmental disposition is because we mistake morality for righteousness. They are not the same. It’s why we preach prejudice as gospel. It’s why we preach at people, talk down at those outside of faith. That is not the spirit of Christ. “Come unto me ALL…” Jesus said. The spirit of Christ is invitational and welcoming. God is not looking for perfect people. He’s looking for sinners to show his love.
Our job is to introduce the sinner to the love of Christ. We should never look down on anyone. These are people Jesus died for. His blood is their worth and value. Morality is not the basis of salvation. If it were we won’t need Jesus. We can save ourselves. Righteousness is the basis of salvation and the righteousness that saves is not self-righteousness. The righteousness that saves is a gift of God. We can do nothing to earn salvation. (Romans 5:17). It is all about God’s dispensation of mercy… for he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. “The wind bloweth where it listeth…” Who knows on whom next he will confer this life from Heaven?
There are many things we preach that have nothing to do with salvation. Some are just temperance issues. The man newly born again may have carry-over issues. Don’t be too quick to judge. He’s just a baby in the Lord. God is very competent with his work. And he works in the young believer creating a desire to please him: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13). Not every conversion is as dramatic as Paul’s. It’s a process for some. They will arrive. Don’t give up on people. The man you judge “unsaved” today because of his lack of conformity may be a great evangelist tomorrow.
The idea of a clinically sanitized church is an illusion we perpetuate in our carry-ons. Don’t we worship there? We ought to fling the doors of the church wide open. Let the weary come in. The church is not an exclusive club. Pity we can’t see the humanity of departed saints. (Every Christian, dead or alive is a saint according to the Bible).
Apostle Simon (not Peter) was a nationalist, a Zealot. Zealots believed in violent overthrow of the Roman government. We’ll probably call him terrorist today, or liberation fighter, or ultra nationalist. Yet Jesus brought him in.
Apostle Matthew was a despised tax collector. He collected taxes for Herod. Tax collectors were hated.
Apostle Peter denied Jesus thrice. After Jesus died he promptly abandoned the cause.
Apostle Thomas was a doubter whose name is now synonymous with faithlessness in our lexicon.
Nathaniel was a jaded and cynical man. Didn’t think anything good could come out of Nazareth. Jesus was from Nazareth.
John Mark was a mission deserter. Couldn’t handle the rigour. Paul and Barnabas fought because of him.
James the brother of our Lord didn’t originally believe in him. He became Pastor of the Jerusalem Church.
God saw past the humanity of these people and gave them a chance. They went on to become pillars of the Church. Then look at the people Jesus saved. Mary Magdalene was a “notorious” woman. Highly demonized.
Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in Jericho. Horrible reputation as Roman collaborator.
Remember that woman caught red-handed in adultery? The one to be stoned… Jesus saved her.
Remember that Samaritan woman at the well? She lived with her boyfriend… Five-time divorcee. Jesus saved her. (John 4).
Of course you remember Nicodemus. Politician and Council Member. Couldn’t identify openly with Jesus (John 3:1-2). But he would do great later on. Partly financed the burial of Jesus.
Jesus saved them all, gave them a second chance, and a third chance, and more. He’s still giving chances. Jesus understands the savings business. We’re not better than anyone else by any yardstick. We are who we are because God is who he is. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son. WHOSOEVER believes in him will not perish.
If you’re reading this and you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Saviour please pray this prayer with me: “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I believe in my heart Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. I confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Saviour. I am now born again. Amen.”
Congratulations! Please get a modern Bible and start reading from the New Testament. A new life has just begun. Check out this scripture in the New Testament: 2 Corinthians 5:17
And please go to church. God is looking forward to spending time with you in church, and outside church. God bless.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org