During the short amount of time I got to spend with Coffey Anderson, he said something that I thought was definitely true and unfortunately not seen often enough. He said "The church should be a hospital." Wow. How often do we really think of it in that way?
One of the problems that the Church needs to face (and I'm at the front of the line) is that we are far too frequently judgmental. We see people on the street, in the doctor's office or even in the pew in front of us on Sunday morning and think that we have them all figured out. Just by observing the outward appearance and behavior of a person, too many of us think we have his or her life figured out. I have noticed this over and over and over again in my life.
I've worked in four different grocery stores, so I have seen my fair share of real-life demographics. Until recently I was never convicted of the thoughts that I would have. "He's a druggie" or "She is a terrible mother" I would think without hesitation. I don't know these people in the slightest, but because I'm a "good Christian" fella, I can render someone unfit for society. What would God say to this?
Well He's really been speaking to my heart on this issue. One thing that He often brings to my mind in the middle of this sin is Romans 5:6, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly."
Who are the ungodly?
Everyone who has sinned is ungodly! Romans 3:10 and 3:23 speak to that, claiming that we all fall into that category. Every time I look at someone to judge them as less than me, as someone unworthy, I am condemning Christ's sacrifice. Jesus died for that person. It is absolutely not our position to pick and choose who should go to Heaven, for God desires every man, woman and child (1 Timothy 2:4). It is our job to love just as Christ loved, unconditionally, without a tryout (as if we were on some sort of All-Star team!), so that they may see the love of God through us and receive salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
Now what is even more absurd is that this lack of love is not only seen between brothers and non-brothers, but between siblings in Christ. Most of us have had disagreements with other servants of Christ; however, God desires unity. Let me place a huge warning label on this:
There are reasons why any given city has 1,000 churches. We do not all take the same position on doctrinal issues. Sunday morning worship will be divided because of this-- and that's just a reality. It should also be noted that many Christ-claiming denominations really do not embrace and worship the same God we do. Discernment should most definitely be used in these situations. Just remember that although Sunday morning worship may be divided, fellowship should never be broken between believers.
We all need a huge dose of humility. Our pride cannot come before God-honoring fellowship and ministry with other believers. There is too much work that needs to be done for us to sit around debating things all the time. The only way the Church will ever thrive is by submitting to the love of God which never fails (1 Corinthians 13). This love is above anything else the world has to offer and those who need it will notice that.
Jesus must come before our own desires. He loved us enough to die for us, so let's imitate that love as we go out into the world. God bless you!