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If we look at Jesus and the life He lived here, we will see that love and purity have ‘dirty’ hands.

Shame.

We are all pretty familiar with it, and when we stand in a pristine church, in our perfect Sunday best, with our hair perfectly done, our makeup all in place, we can feel so out of place with our blackened hearts, filthy hands, and rotting hearts.

I can remember days feeling like I didn’t even belong in church.  I wasn’t good enough to be in church.

Those are the days that the holiness of Christ was magnified to a point that it destroyed his compassion.

At some point along the way, the body of Christ- a body made up of very imperfect people- adopted the mindset that we are perfect, as Christ is perfect.  But we aren’t.  At least, I’m not.

It’s a crippling mindset to have, because we then assume that, since the church is made up of such perfect people, there is no need to confront such filthy sins as pornography, masturbation and lust.  If you struggle with one of those, then please stay away until you are all better.

We have made sin our modern day leprosy and have forgotten what Paul said.  We are no longer under the law but under grace.

In the Old Testament system of worship there were so many rules!  So many guidelines, and if you even dared approach the temple it did, in fact, mean you were clean.  There were rules if you walked on a dead animal.  There were rules for a woman on her period.  There were rules for if your donkey fell in a ditch.  There were rules for the rules for the rules for the rules.  Why?  Because God is holy, and those rules are a constant reminder that we can never be good enough for Him.

Thank you, Jesus, that we no longer live under that crushing weight!  Can you imagine?  I only would have required enough livestock to feed a third world country in order to receive remission of sins.  But then, there was leprosy.

If you were a leper, it was no fun.  You were excommunicated from fellowship, and had to cry out “unclean, unclean!” so no one would come near you.

We can treat sinners like that in the church.  I’m not talking about the ‘I cheated on my history test last week’ or ‘I really hate that girl’ sinners (both are sins, by the way).  I’m talking about the big sinners, the sinners that have the audacity and nerve to sin the sins too hideous to be brought up in church.  I’m talking about me.  I’m talking about us.  Porn addicts, lust addicts, sexual ‘perverts’ are some of many modern-day lepers.

Here’s the good news: Jesus healed the lepers.

Yep!  All of those “thou shalt not”s and “thou canst not come near Me if thou hast”s went out the window when the holiness of God came clothed in human flesh. 

Jesus Christ was known– not caught once, not suspected, not rumored, not falsely accused of– as a friend of sinners.  Friend.  He fellowshipped with themHe loved them.  He allowed them to worship Him.

And when people copped the same attitude with Him that the church has today, He corrected them and reminded them that He came for sinners.  That’s the whole reason He was here.  That’s the whole reason Calvary exists!  That was the whole point.

So, yes, I know, the shame can be overwhelming.  I know what it is like to sit in that pew, knowing that everyone around you is convinced you have it all together, and knowing the whole time that they are wrong.  I know the frustration of just wanting to be safe, of wanting to be real.

But in all of that shame and frustration, please remember this.

The church is made up of imperfect people, so it can never be a replacement for Christ.  The people in your church are going to get things wrong.  Do not base your relationship with God on the reflection in His church– it’s dimmed, it’s blurry, it’s cracked, it’s broken, it’s imperfect.  Base your relationship with God on the truth of who He is.

My Jesus is a friend of sinners.

Some songs for reflection:

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