Welcome to Church

Day 5

Do you find it’s easier to excuse the sinners?

The ones that are so obviously lost. The weak and frail and feeble wounded. Motherless children raised not knowing any better. The abused who strikes out untrusting, trying at survival like a feral animal. The girl who never heard she was loved and looks for it in dim-lit rooms and soggy sheets. Is it easier to have compassion on one who is so obviously fallen? After all, God hung with the marginalized, the less thans, the untouchables.

I find that compassion is almost always easier on one who’s hurts are obvious and therefore their sin is expected. Because no matter what we claim of our sin being evident, most of us are prone to excusing our own and exposing others.

But what of the churchgoers? They are not supposed to be at enmity with God having made their peace in grace. And yet, the church finds within itself a mob of sin and sinners at every glance. The broken people seek a Messiah.

What does a welcome into a church mean? For the doors should be flung wide for sinners and seekers and souls. But when do we call them the church? At what point does grace call and they swoon under the extraordinary mercy of the Lord, seeing and knowing Him?

Preachers may count numbers of heads bowed at the altar, called forth to chant like sheep, cards filled out with boxes checked. 34 saved this Sunday morning. But I know that alter calls and prayers chanted can be less than nothing if the words don’t find purchase in the soul. Faith is after all about so much more than a mental assent and willingness to believe. It has muscle and movement when it’s real.

At what point do we confess and testify to Jesus not only as Savior but as Lord? Master. At what point do we count those boxes and see the fruit of those seeds?

How do we love each other with the infinite love of Jesus and not thrust each other on towards discipleship? For aren’t we called to not only receive but reflect?

 

I joined up with my usual Five Minute Friday Crew tonight and did a 5 minute write. If you want to write free for 5 minutes and link up, I encourage you to do so. It’s my favorite write of the week when I don’t worry if I’m getting it all just right ( I seriously hate editing, although I know it’s necessary most of the time.) 

Her word this week is: Welcome and I am so glad she didn’t pick a word like Footie Pajamas cuz I would’ve been stumped to tie that in to #31days of Why Church. 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Oh friend…what a perfect write. You are making me think. I was wondering how you’d tie this in to your 31 days and.you.did.awesome.

    Love and hugs to you!

    • Alia Joy says

      Me too. I wasn’t sure how that would work out but it fit in the end so that was nice. No random word that would stick out awkward and gangly.

  2. says

    You are so right – that it is easier to love those who are obviously sinners rather than those who are still sinners but also saved. church is a weird sorta thing, when you think of it, isn’t it?

    • Alia Joy says

      It is weird. In some ways we should have a higher standard for believers because they have the Holy Spirit and therefore should bear fruit in their lives and be light to the world but then we’re also messed up and being sanctified and none of us have arrived. And we all need grace in the cracks. Lots of thoughts and emotions come up when I think of church and Christians and I think it’s that way for a lot of people.

  3. says

    “I am so glad she didn’t pick a word like Footie Pajamas cuz I would’ve been stumped to tie that in to #31days of Why Church.” LOL! :)

    Very thought provoking.

  4. says

    Powerful stuff! I tend to think that most people don’t look so deep as you do. Meaning when they see a man who (in all other accounts) looks normal. Has a “good” job. Lives in a good neighborhood and has 3 beautiful children. And then they see him on the news for murdering his wife and kids. Most people instinctively point the finger and scream about how horrible this monster of a man is. But if they looked deeper. If they knew him, they would realized that this man grew up with a father who abandoned and denied him. A mother who couldn’t have cared less about him and a step father who abused him. While he rose to “material success” he never rose out of his spiritual darkness. So to your question, when do we invite the sinners to church? My answer EVERYDAY. Not just sunday. Let church come to them. Let yourself be the example of God’s undying love. Let your light so shine that the darkness is no more!
    Thanks for posting this it was a wonderful read!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks for reading Keya. I do see what you mean, that sometimes it’s hard for us to look deeper than the status quo and see where someone is fractured and how we judge things by the external. I totally agree. Although in some ways, maybe as a society, we’ve moved to a nation of victims and we can swing the other way and see no one accountable for their actions because everyone has hurts and broken parts.

      I agree that “sinners” (I use that term loosely since aren’t we all?) should be invited to church everyday and also that we are the church out in the everyday to them but I was wondering more along the lines of when do we call someone a part of the church. As in, you are now a part of this body, joined and accountable? I have my ideas but I’d love to hear others as well.

  5. says

    I do believe you are able to stop time. So much depth and clarity and resolution of thought. You challenge and encourage with honesty with each new post. Thank you.

    • Alia Joy says

      I guess that is the one benefit to always overthinking everything. I’m super analytical and always have a ton of thoughts competing in my head at any given time so when I get the word, it all just whooshes out. At least this is productive. Sometimes all my thoughts whoosh out onto my poor husband, which is why I truly believe blogging has helped our marriage. LOL

  6. says

    The church is not who fills the pews. The church is the body of confessing Christians everywhere, worldwide. And you are right. It is hard to love them because we expect too much. We expect them to be better, holier, and they often are not. Like Paul, we know what we should do, but don’t do it. Hmmm. I wonder if that’s the real difference–hat we know what we ought to be. It may be easier to excuse unbelievers because they don’t know.

    • Alia Joy says

      I think it is. It’s easier to excuse them because not only do they not know any better, they don’t have the Holy Spirit to guide them. Anyone without apparent sin in the world is simply moral or humanistic and that doesn’t necessarily glorify God but those whose sins are reeking and obvious, we can tell are lost and perhaps tend towards mercy?

      • says

        And, you know, God does the same thing. The more we know Him, the more we are responsible to Him. God gives mercy to unbelievers because, in view of their eternal fate, this is the only place He can do so. But that still leaves us with what to do with a vastly imperfect church. You are right. We cannot abandon it. God did not give us that option.

  7. says

    This is SO good and convicting in many, many ways!

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this perspective. I have been that judgmental one…and I have been the one receiving judgement.

    I want to change that.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Lindsey. I think most of us have been at both ends and although we need discernment we don’t need cynicism. Did you read Anne Voskamps post on Cynicism. It’s super convicting for me, who tends to see all of the cynical things first.

  8. says

    Just had a conversation with a friend along the lines of how much easier for some to be free with grace with those outside the church than within it. So loved what you shared here friend. Blessings!

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