Matthew 9:13, Romans 3:23
Years ago when I was serving in the military I found it hard to get to church every weekend, but I would try. My friends in facts knew that I was a regular churchgoer and so that subject came up often when we hanging out together maybe on Saturday night. What are you doing tomorrow? Well, going to church.
I remember some of my friends responding to me and remarking though that “if I ever tried to enter through a church door I’d probably be struck by lightning.” I often thought it was unfortunate that they felt that way. They kind of felt that their sinful lives, the bad things that they have done, deserve God’s punishment and so if they ever walk through a church door God would strike them dead.
It’s sad that they felt this way because the entire purpose of church, the entire purpose of the Christian religion, is to provide help and salvation for sinners. Matthew chapter 9 verse 13 Jesus says this
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)
Wouldn’t it be sad if someone was incredibly sick and yet they didn’t want to go to the hospital because they are afraid that maybe the doctor would be upset with them because they haven’t been taking care of their health. Or maybe they were afraid that they didn’t really belong in the hospital place that’s so clean and sanitary to bring their diseased self into that space would corrupt it. It’d be sad because the entire purpose of hospitals and doctors and nurses is to help people who are sick. To help them feel better. To heal them.
The same is true for the church. The church exists to help sinners. To help relieve their guilt that they feel over the weight of their sins. It’s something my friends didn’t really understand. They thought church was just a place for outwardly moral and upright and good people. This is what the Pharisees thought too. But Jesus wanted to remind them that the church, and their Savior, is for sinners. And ONLY for sinners. Romans Chapter 3 it says this
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
It’s a reminder that all of us are sinful. All of us need help. All of us have guilt and shame because of the things we have done. Yet God is the one who graciously invites us to come to him. To confess our sins and to know that they’re forgiven for the sake of his Son, Jesus Christ.
So don’t be afraid to go to church. And don’t keep others from coming to church either. Thinking that they’re unworthy. Each and every one of us is unworthy of God’s grace. Yet he welcomes sinners to come to him. To receive his mercy and grace through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.